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Running

EAGLE ROCK LOOP

Fawn V. Hernandez Photo Credit: Tomas Orihuela

Eagle Rock Loop is a nearly 27 mile trail loop located in the Ouachita National Forest in central Arkansas located about an hour southeast of Mena. The loop consist of three trails: Little Missouri, Athens-Big Fork and the Viles Branch Equestrian Trails and is often deemed the most challenging loop in Arkansas. Interestingly, the trail was developed on a 100-year-old postal route, which I contemplated several times on our run; tough postal workers! There are many river crossings and steep, rocky climbs with a total elevation gain of around 4,500 ft. There is only one source of drinking water located at the Albert Pike Recreational Area so it’s wise to bring a water filter just in case you will need to tap in to one of the many water crossings on the trail. There are five parking areas/ trailheads to choose from and runners can choose to go counter-clockwise (CCW) or clockwise (CW) from your parking destination. Myself and three other ultra runners ventured over to ERL in July with a plan to split the loop into two days of running to account for the challenge and unknowns of the trail. I wrote more on my blog about our epic adventure including getting lost on our first day. Due to our accidental extra mileage on the first day we didn’t run on about 5 miles of the southeastern part of the loop the next day meaning we missed some of the most beautiful parts of the trail. Below are my takeaway points designed for anyone considering making a trip up to Eagle Rock Loop. 24

THINGS TO KNOW:

▷▷ ERL is not well-marked. There are times the white blazes

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are in abundance and other times they are scarcely placed at all. This is particularly the case at the numerous river crossings. Before leaving home, get the All Trails app and download the specific maps you might want to use. This helped us greatly when we found ourselves going the wrong direction and not certain on how to right our path. Although there is no cell service in the area the downloaded maps and GPS tracking worked great for us! If going to an unfamiliar trail over pack food and water. I carried in about 100 ounces of liquid plus way more fuel than I would normally need for a 21 mile run which was our expected distance for the day. This kept a frustrating mistake and extra miles from turning into a potentially dangerous situation. As a group we packed two water filters and a headlamp just in case. Our group split up and we did not consider evenly distributing these items before we went different ways. When a couple of us got lost we realized we didn’t have these potentially necessary items, which brings me to my next point… Don’t split up the group. If it is necessary to split up, talk about an emergency plan. Luckily, we all concluded going to the car was the best

Active Acadiana September 2017  

Acadiana's Only Health & Fitness Publication

Active Acadiana September 2017  

Acadiana's Only Health & Fitness Publication

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