The Five Best Vistas in the Ouachita Mountains

Buckeye Mountain provides amazing views, especially in autumn

Are you a vista person or a valley person? Do you like to be up high looking over everything below you, or do you like to be in the thick of it, surrounded by mountains on all sides? I’m a little of both, but if I had to choose just one – I’d say I’m a summit chaser. I love the view from the top. When you work hard to climb the mountain and then look down over the rugged terrain, you have the best feeling. I have compiled a list of the five best vistas in the Ouachita Mountains.

1. Buckeye Mountain

The Buckeye Mountain Trail is in the Caney Creek Wilderness Area, which is in one of the most rugged areas in Arkansas. Endure this steep climb and you will be rewarded by some of the best views in the entire state of Arkansas.

Buckeye Mountain Trail provides the best views in the Ouachita Mountains

When you are on the top of Buckeye Mountain, you can see miles and miles of mountain peaks. I have seen more mountain tops from this vista than I have seen in the state of Arkansas. They just go forever.

2. Petit Jean

One of the most famous of the five best vistas in the Ouachita Mountains is technically not in the Ouachita Mountains, but instead it is the Arkansas Valley ecoregion. However, we won’t split hairs. Petit Jean Mountain isn’t in the Ozark Mountains either.

The view from Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park is one of the five best vistas in the Ouachita Mountains

When you begin your hike down to Cedar Falls or enjoy dinner at Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park, the scenery takes your breath away. The view from the top of the mountain looking west into the narrow valley of Cedar Creek is mesmerizing.

3. Hickory Nut Mountain

Hickory Nut Mountain is hands down the best view of Lake Ouachita, and for sure one of the five best vistas in the Ouachitas. This view doesn’t take any effort, you can drive up to the top.

Hickory Nut Mountain views are unbelievable

At the top of Hickory Nut Mountain you can nearly see from the eastern to the western ends of the lake, and much of the north shore.

But if you do feel like earning the view, you can hike or bike to the top via the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. And whether you climb it on the west slope or the east slope, you can’t go wrong. Both sides of the mountain are my favorite part of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail.

4. Chinquapin Mountain

I recently discovered Chinquapin Mountain while hiking a loop around Lake Sylvia. It’s a steep climb, but the views to the west show you the narrow valley you just hike. And with the views to the east, you see all the way to Pinnacle Mountain.

Pinnacle Mountain can be seen from Chinquapin Mountain. This is one of the five best vistas in the Ouachita Mountains

I love being able to look over narrow valleys and peaks of other mountains, as well as wide valleys and endless spaces.

5. Pinnacle Mountain

For 365 degree views, Pinnacle Mountain takes the cake. It an extremely tough climb, requiring you to use your hands in a few places. But this short climb is more than worth it. From the top you can see across the Arkansas River, Lake Maumelle, and downtown Little Rock. And I’m sure you can see Chinquapin Mountain as well.

Climbing to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, one of the hardest trails in Arkansas. Pinnacle Mountain State Park is west of Little Rock and a great trail for someone wanting a workout climb.

Because it is close to Little Rock, Pinnacle Mountain is an extremely popular trail so you might have to fight a crowd. But it is definitely worth it.

Five Best Vistas in the Ouachita Mountains

Autumn is the best time to visit the vistas in the Ouachita Mountains, but winter, when the leaves are off, is also really nice. Earning the view makes the beauty of the vista that much sweeter.

This is a list of my favorite vistas in the Ouachita Mountains. Did I leave one out that you particularly love? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Great list. I might add the summit of Black Fork Mtn, which can be reached by the 6-mile long Black Fork trail. From the thorny, briar-infested “peak”, you’ve got a great view of the east-west valley, and over to Rich Mountain, home of Queen Wilhelmina, and beyond. You can also see into Oklahoma (that big dotted boundary line helps to know, wink, wink). Also, this is just about the farthest west you can traverse in the Arkansas Ouachitas. However, I’d probably place that view in the Top 10 Ouachita views, so your list still stands! Then I also might give honorable mentions to Forked, Crystal Mountain, Flatside Pinnacle, and North Fork Pinnacle (which are all in the same region (Flatside Wilderness area).

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