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Reviews > Books > Trail Guides > Ozark Highlands Trail Guide > Owner Review by Shawn Wakefield

Ozark Highlands Trail Guide
Owner Review by Shawn Wakefield
May 1, 2009

Reviewer Information

Name: Shawn Wakefield
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
City, State, Country: Tishomingo, Oklahoma, United States

Backpacking Background: I started camping and backpacking about 25 years ago as a teenager in the Boy Scouts. I have more recently gotten very interested in backpacking again, and I really enjoy going lightweight now. My wife and I take frequent backpacking trips together, and our kids (all under 13) go occasionally. We like to hike in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas for short trips, but enjoy Wyoming and Colorado for longer trips. My current pack averages 18 lb (8 kg) including water and 3 days food.

Product Information

Year Published: 2007
Listed Size: 5.5 x 8.5 in (14 x 22 cm)
Size as delivered: 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.35 in (14 x 22 x 0.9 cm)
Weight as delivered: 7.1 oz (200 g)
MSRP: $18.95 USD
Material: Soft bound, glossy cover

Product Description

OHT Guide Cover
OHT Guide Cover
(image used with permission)

The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) is a 165 mile (266 km) hiking trail in northwest and north central Arkansas. This trail guide is the only comprehensive trail guide available for the OHT. There is a complete mile by mile description of the entire trail. The book divides the trail into eight sections and has a separate map and elevation profiles for each section. It also includes maps and descriptions of five connecting trails. The book was written by Tim Ernst, who has been involved with the trail since its beginning. Tim has also volunteered thousands of hours of time toward establishing and maintaining this and other trails. This new edition includes GPS coordinates for most road and stream crossings.

Preliminary information before the section descriptions covers such topics as:
  • OHT History
  • OHT Association
  • Camping
  • Low Impact Use
  • Fires
  • Water
  • Wildlife
  • Parking
  • Shuttle Services
  • Seasons
  • Weather
  • Equipment
Following these preliminaries are the detailed, and I mean detailed, descriptions of each section. The descriptions are written from west to east, as that is how the author hiked the trail when researching for this guide book. The author describes just about every turn, rise, descent, stream crossing, switchback, etc. along the trail. At times, it is almost too much information for me to digest. It can be hard for me to remember all of those details once I am on the trail. The author suggests carrying the book on the trail and reading the parts describing the trail to be hiked that day before setting out each morning. I can understand how this might be a good idea.

Field Use

I have read the book several times since buying it. I like how the author points out his Special Scenic Spots or SSS as he calls them. When reading the detailed descriptions I like to make a mental note of those, as they sometimes help me determine what section of the trail I would like to hike. The information on shuttling was helpful last summer when my wife and I were planning to hike a portion of the trail. The shuttle contact numbers seemed accurate at that time and were useful. We did carry the book with us while hiking, and we usually pulled it out of our pack at rest stops to see what might be ahead further down the trail, or up the trail as was often the case.

The author carried a tape recorder and measuring wheel (back before GPS was common) along all of the trail when researching for this guide. His guide often alerted me to a steep grade ahead, or helped me find a good water source or campsite. The author has hiked the trail in all seasons of the year, and provides good insight about the weather, trees, flowers, and vegetation for each month of the year. This helped me decide what month I wanted to hike or what month to avoid.

Since the trail is in very remote forest, the information about water was especially important. The book describes possible water sources along each portion of the trail, and whether or not a certain stream or spring will be dry at different times of the year. It let me know what sections might have long gaps between water, and even suggested possible locations to stash water before a hike in case that might be necessary.

The map and elevation profiles for each section are very useful and give a good overview of each section. At a glance, I could see distances between road crossings, where steep climbs would be, and a general idea of the turns and changes in direction for each section of the trail. The maps include symbols to denote campgrounds, day use areas, side trails, bluffs, and other important features.

Another valuable trip planning tool for me was the mileage logs. Each section includes a detailed table of distances for each section, in miles only, and it gives the distances for both west to east and east to west hiking. In additional, near the front of the book is a comprehensive distance table showing distances along the entire trail, again in both directions.

OHT Sample Section Map
Sample Section Map
(image used with permission)

Things I like:
1. Comprehensive
2. Compact enough to carry
3. Nice maps and elevation profiles

Things I don't like:
1. Descriptions seem almost too detailed sometimes for me


Although I could have hiked the OHT without this guide, it would have not been as enjoyable or easy. When I decided to hike parts of the OHT, I bought this guide, and it has been well worth it. I also know that I am supporting a dedicated trail enthusiast with my purchase as well.

- Shawn Wakefield

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Reviews > Books > Trail Guides > Ozark Highlands Trail Guide > Owner Review by Shawn Wakefield

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