The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail ( LOViT) is now complete! Twelve years of planning and construction went into the building the trail, which was built in segments over the course of those years with the help of a group of volunteers known as the Traildogs. A ribbon cutting last week marked the special occasion.
The trail includes around 45 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails along the southern shore of Lake Ouachita. The trail, which is near Mount Ida, was built in sections and was a joint effort of many groups and agencies in the area to link the resorts and campgrounds around Lake Ouachita together via a trail system. The trail meanders through the Ouachita National Forest with spurs providing lake vista and the route is sanctioned by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).
The route was created with a specific goal in mind: as a means for people to enjoy the beauty of Lake Ouachita without being in or on the water. The route was designed for all levels and attracts a wide range of users. Parts of the trail are handicapped accessible and groups ranging from ultra runners to mountain bikers make use of the varied terrain.
The trail consists of a number of trail segments, along with some short out-and-back or loop spurs leading off a trail segment. Many trailhead signs can be seen along Hwy 270 for the different routes.
Many congratulations to the Traildogs, the never tiring group of volunteers ( led by Jerry Shields) who provided support in the design, planning, and construction of the route. I got a chance to meet some of the crew last year including Shields, Al Gathright, and Robert Cavanaugh. The group has a very resourceful website if you might want to learn more about the history of the trail or the different routes.
According to copy written by Dan Watson on the site, twelve years ago, Shields and Gathright began an effort to create the trail with the intent to provide both a hiking and biking trail and an attraction to the area that would help bring "shoulder season" traffic to the resorts, restaurants, crystal shops, and other businesses in the area.
"This tremendous accomplishment was carried out by many people and through strong coalitions with and support from the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Arkansas Game and Fish. Additionally, the project received significant grants from the Arkansas Highway Department, the National Recreational Trails program, Montgomery County and the Mount Ida Chamber of Commerce, the Lake Ouachita Resort Owners, the Montgomery County Health Advisory Committee, and from many private donations. On top of all the support were the just under 10,000 hours of volunteer labor put into the project. This has indeed been a monumental effort."
td25"While we celebrate this day with great joy, we also realize that the job to maintain and perhaps extend the trail is far from over," Watson said. "The Traildogs and those who benefit from the Trail look forward to the continued support of these special agencies and to ongoing support from the Trail's users and donors. And, of course, we always appreciate maintenance help from new Traildogs and other individuals and organizations. We sincerely thank you all."
For more information on the trail, visit lakeouachitavistatrail.org.