Brady Mountain

Brady Mountain

A switchback overlooking Blakely Mountain Dam near its Vista.

A switchback overlooking Blakely Mountain Dam near its Vista.

Description:

The Brady Mountain Section of the Trail is a 6.2-mile segment, connecting the Brady Mountain Road Trailhead to the Avery Recreation Area Trailhead. This rolling, mostly mountainous track climbs immediately from the Brady Mountain Road Trailhead to the peak of Blakely Mountain.

"Balance Rock" along the Brady Mountain to Avery trail section.

“Balance Rock” along the Brady Mountain to Avery trail section.

At the peak, the Trail traverses the northern slope of Blakely Mountain as it passes near the two “Brady Backbone” rock outcroppings. At the top of the first outcropping is “Balance Rock”, a large cone-shaped stone balanced at the top of the backbone ridge.

Traveling east from the peak, the Trail winds down through some switchbacks on the southeastern slope of the mountain until it crosses Spillway Road. There is no formal Trailhead at the road crossing, but parking is available nearby.

Again moving east from Spillway Road, the Trail climbs and crosses Rick’s Road, where there is a small trailhead parking area. From the Rick’s Road parking area, it is a downhill two-mile stretch of exciting trail to the eastern terminus of the LOViT at the Avery Recreation Area below Blakely Mountain Dam. This two-mile stretch includes a stop at the Blakely Mountain Dam Vista, then drops dramatically down the southern slope of the mountain through a series of sharp switchbacks, terminating at the Avery Trailhead parking area.

Note that Rick’s Road may not show on many maps or may be marked “Blakely Mountain Dam Road”.  Rick’s Road turns north off of Blakely Dam Road at 34.566067, -93.200196 (per Google Maps).

Surrounding Area:

The western end of this trail segment has a well-marked trailhead parking area just off Brady Mountain Road. At the east end is the Avery Recreation Area below Blakely Mountain Dam and just off Blakely Dam Road.

Length:

4.2-miles from Brady Mountain Road to the Rick’s Road crossing and parking area. 2.0-miles from Rick’s Road to the Avery Recreation Area Trailhead.

Difficulty:

Moderate to difficult from west to east. East to West very difficult to moderate.

Amenities:

The Avery Recreation Trailhead at the east end of this trail segment features flush-type restrooms, water, parking and a covered pavilion.

The western end of this trail segment is on Brady Mountain Road, not far south of Brady Mountain Resort.  The Brady Mountain One-Stop is on Hwy 270 at the corner of Brady Mountain Cutoff, which joins Brady Mountain Road.

Directions to Trailhead:

Turn north from US 270 onto Brady Mountain Road, and go 4.0 miles to the Brady Mountain Trailhead Parking Area on your right.

Accommodations:

There is a Corps of Engineers campground and Brady Mountain Resort four miles north of the Trailhead Parking Area on Brady Mountain Rd. Echo Canyon Resort and day use area a half of a mile north from where the trail crosses Spillway Rd.


Recent articles about the Brady Mountain LOViT Trail Segment:

Trail Maintenance by the Diamond Lakes Master Naturalists – Dec. 19, 2015

20151219_Spur_to_Spillway_Parking_Area-1A team of hardy Diamond Lakes Master Naturalist trail workers met at Spillway Landing recently to work on one segment of the LOVIT Trail.

The team restored 10 cross draining structures needed to eliminate erosion due to the scouring of the trail.

20151219_Spur_to_Spillway_Parking_Area-2The Master Naturalists adopted this 7 mile section of trail as part of their volunteer work in the Diamond Lakes area.

The group also worked on the finish grading of a new spur trail tying the LOVIT Trail into the Spillway parking area.  Those seeking an easy 2 mile hike should consider parking at this location and hiking down to the Avery Park trail terminus.

Bench Plaques for Jeff Smith and Tommy Sue Marsh – July 15, 2015

Traildogs Al Gathright and Jerry Shields hit the trail today to do some trimming and to install two plaques on sponsored benches.  We drove to the Brady Mountain Trailhead parking area for the 3/4 mile hike into the first bench, located on the banks of the small creek the Trail crosses.

To Jeff Smith, THANK YOU.

To Jeff Smith, THANK YOU.

This bench was purchased by the Traildogs to be sponsored for Jeff Smith of the Hot Springs Sentinel Record, who was tragically killed in a car accident. Jeff had followed the development of the LOViT from the first day of construction until his untimely death. He wrote hundreds of articles about the Trail’s development and was instrumental in bringing the Trail’s existence into the public eye.

A beautiful location for Jeff's bench.

A beautiful location for Jeff’s bench.

We installed a brass plaque in honor of Jeff’s support. The location is a beautiful, secluded location and has a very nice view of the creek and the small waterfall just upstream from the bench.

Hiking into Jeff’s Bench site, we trimmed the undergrowth and brush from the trail, but the short spur from the parking area to the trail, as well as the entrance to the trail from Brady road, are badly overgrown. We will schedule an early morning work day to open up these three trail entrances in the near future.

We then drove a mile north on Brady Mountain Road to the old forest road, and we then drove and trimmed the road to near the parking area just below where the old road intersects the trail.

Plaque for Tommy Sue Marsh, sponsored by her husband, Traildog Jay Marsh.

Plaque for Tommy Sue Marsh, sponsored by her husband, Traildog Jay Marsh.

We then hiked and trimmed about a mile up to the summit of Brady Mountain, where we have two benches installed at the base of the rocky spine near the Balanced Rock formation. We installed the plaque for Jay Marsh’s wife on one of the benches that Jay has sponsored for that location.

20150715_Trail_Maintenance_and_Plaques-4Hiking back to our vehicle, we found where some stupid fool had attempted to pull up trail mile marker Number 33 that was installed last year. We will have to pull up the bent rod and replace the rod and reinstall the maker.

Trail Maintenance on Little Bear and Bear Mountain – June 9, 2015

On a very hot Tuesday in June, Traildogs Al, Robert, and Dan took to the woods to clear any downed trees on Little Bear and Bear Mountains following the month of May’s severe storms and continuous rain.  What we found was a trail that was in reasonably good shape but that was quite overgrown with vegetation in areas where the canopy is thin.

20150609-DSCN2881

Traildogs Al and Robert taking a well-deserved break at Traildog Vista on Bear Mountain.
(Click on this image to view more photos from June 9, 2015.)

In all, there were only about 10 trees that needed to be cut off the trail.  However, there are areas where the briars are getting a good foothold and needed to be trimmed back.  We were fortunate to have with us a pair of Stihl weed eaters with scythe attachments that made short work of clearing weeds in several areas.

All in all, it was another great day to be on the Trail, despite the hard work and hot weather!

Ouachita Mountain Hikers Rally and BBQ, Oct. 25, 2014

Saturday, October 25th, the Ouachita Mountain Hikers had a rally and BBQ at the Avery Recreation Area to celebrate the completion of their six-day hike of the entire Lake Ouachita Vista Trail system. Starting at the ADA Kiosk on Monday Oct 20th, various groups of OMH members hiked sections of the Trail. Eight of the members, including Traildog Chuck Dumas, received special recognition for hiking the entire forty miles of trail.  This was a team effort of the Ouachita Mountain Hikers organization, with some members hiking, some shuttling, and some organizing the Rally and BBQ.

USACE Ranger Mike Wade addressing the Ouachita Mountain Hikers at the Avery Recreation Area

USACE Ranger Mike Wade addressing the Ouachita Mountain Hikers at the Avery Recreation Area

The Ouachita Mountain Hikers invited the LOViT Traildogs to join in the hikes and to join them in their celebration rally and BBQ. Pam Harrison served as head chef and food organizer, and it was indeed a feast! Three of our Traildogs – myself, Robert Cavanaugh and Chuck Dumas – were present at the rally and BBQ. After the group of around fifty finished eating, Mike Wade, US Army Corps of Engineers Ranger, gave the group a presentation covering the recently completed emergency rescue plan he has developed for the Trail. Mike, as usual, did a great job of explaining this well-thought-out emergency plan.

Head Chef Pam Harrison dressed for Halloween

Head Chef Pam Harrison dressed for Halloween

After Mike’s presentation, special awards were presented by Cliff Harrison to the eight members who completed a hike of the entire Trail. Following these awards, Jim Gifford presented a special Certificate of Appreciation to the Traildogs for their efforts in creating this beautiful trail system.

It was a fun day, and we were humbled by the special thanks and recognition from the Ouachita Mountain Hikers.

To my knowledge this is the first organization to hike the entire trail in less than a week.

Many thanks to the Ouachita Mountain Hikers.

Jerry

A New Trailhead Sign At Joplin, and Clearing Trees on Bear Mountain – Oct. 15, 2014

Traildogs Jeremy, Dan, John, Jerry, Chuck, and Robert show off the new Joplin Trailhead sign.  Many thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for providing these signs.

Traildogs Jeremy, Dan, John, Jerry, Chuck, and Robert show off the new Joplin Trailhead sign. Many thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for providing these signs.

Oct. 15 was a beautiful fall day for completing some work on the Trail prior to the planned October 28 at 1:00 pm Dedication Ceremony.  We had six Traildog volunteers today – myself, Robert, Dan, Chuck, John, and Jeremy – all helping install the new Trailhead sign at the Joplin Trailhead parking area.  We also cleared brush and weeds around the parking area and also the section of the Trail heading east where we utilize the old road.

We also cleared the weeds from the Trail where it crosses Mountain Harbor Road. Finally, we checked out the ADA Trail for downed limbs and debris.

Lining up these tall 6x6 posts for the new trailhead sign IS rocket science, at least for these Traildogs!

Lining up these tall 6×6 posts for the new trailhead sign IS rocket science, at least for these Traildogs!

It was a good day to be out on the Trail, and it was nice to have Chris Ham and Tom Ledbetter from the USFS join us at the trailhead.

Robert sizing up the tree and planning his cuts. Not a bad view from here!

Robert sizing up the tree and planning his cuts. Not a bad view from here!
(Click on this image to view more photos from Oct. 14, 2014)

Yesterday, Oct. 14, Traildogs Robert and Dan covered Section 7 of the LOViT from Brady Mountain Road moving west across Bear Mountain to “Laura’s Bench” just below the switchbacks overlooking Crystal Springs. Many trees were down on the Trail from recent storms accompanied by high winds.

Robert and Dan reported that while they were sitting on the bench at Traildog Vista, taking a break from clearing downed trees from across the Trail, a mature Bald Eagle suddenly came swooping slowly by, right at eye level!  This was their reward for removing those 25 downed trees!

"Indian Pipe" growing on Bear Mountain alongside the Trail. The LOViT is a terrific Trail on which to enjoy many different plants (and often animals).

“Indian Pipe” growing on Bear Mountain alongside the Trail. The LOViT is a terrific Trail on which to enjoy many different plants (and often animals).
(Click on this image to view more photos from Oct. 14, 2014.)

We are canceling the planned weed removal day scheduled for next Saturday, October 18, as it will be a busy day for deer hunters in the area, and we don’t want to take any chances on any injuries and don’t want to spoil a hunt.

Thanks

Jerry

New Signs Marking the LOViT – Oct. 1, 2014

This past week we had six volunteers assist in the installation of the new trailhead signs at the Brady Mountain Trailhead parking area.  It was a challenge to get two deep holes dug in the rock-hard clay soil, but we persevered and were able to install the two 6 X 6 treated poles and attached the six different signs required for the site.  It is now virtually impossible to miss this parking area as you drive down Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs standing and watching while Jerry works.

Traildogs standing and watching while Jerry works.
(Click on an image to view more photos from Oct. 1, 2014)

We also attempted to construct the short spur from the parking area to the current trail on the east side of the Brady Mountain Road crossing, but it appears we need the assistance of a mini-excavator to complete this task.  We did remove all the trash, brush, downed trees, and weeds from this now-usable spur, but a day with a mini-excavator and a few volunteers would create a better spur trail down to the mineral level to help contain the re-occurrence of weeds and shrubs along this path.

We also weeded both entrances, east and west, where the trail crosses Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs showing off the new sign along Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs showing off the new sign along Brady Mountain Road.

We had planned to meet to install a new Joplin Trailhead sign on October 8;  however, several Traildogs will be unavailable, so this work is being deferred until October 15.

A special word of thanks to a new Traildog – Jeremy Cudzewicz – for his help last Wednesday. Jeremy, also known as “Frog”, added strength and good carpentry skills to the installation of the trailhead signs.

Jerry

Two New Benches on Section 8 – September 24, 2014

Wednesday’s weather provided a perfect day to be out on the Trail again. We had five Traildog volunteers gather today at the Brady Mountain Road Trailhead parking area to assist with the installation of two new benches along LOViT’s Section 8, which runs from Brady Mountain Road to its easternmost trailhead at the Avery Recreation Area below Blakely Mountain Dam.

Traildogs Jerry, John, Robert, Dan, and Al with the new bench just east of Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs Jerry, John, Robert, Dan, and Al with the new bench just east of Brady Mountain Road. (34°33’44” N 93°15’25” W)
(Click to view more photos from today’s work.)

Before starting the bench installation, we worked on flagging a spur from the parking area over to the Trail some 100 feet away. There currently is no connector from the Trailhead parking to the Trail; users must hike or bike down the busy Brady Mountain roadway to enter the Trail.  Is is our plan to construct this short spur to limit having to utilize the busy roadway.

Today, we loaded up the bench frames and slates with their hardware, along with 80 lb. bags of concrete and gallon bottles of water necessary for installing the benches. The team hand-dug the two holes for the frames, then installed the frames, ensuring they were level before mixing the concrete into the holes. We then created a stone patio in front of each bench utilizing the native stone found nearby.

The second bench, located below a neat rock outcropping near the intersection of Rick's Road and Spillway Road.

The second bench, located below a neat rock outcropping near the intersection of Rick’s Road and Spillway Road. (34°34’6″ N 93°12’3″ W)
(Click to view more photos from Sept. 24, 2014)

The first bench was installed 1/2 mile from the Brady Mountain Road trailhead on the north side of the small stream that cuts across the Trail. The second bench was installed at the base of Blakely Mountain where the trail crosses a rocky drainage. Both sites provide a quite scenic seating area along the trail.

We would also like to report some good news on improving our trail signage. The US Forest Service is providing Trailhead signs for some of our Trailheads. These large signs are of first quality and will greatly enhance the the affected trailheads.  We will be installing these signs in the next couple of weeks.

We are planning another workday next Wednesday, October 1, meeting at 9:00 am at the point where the LOViT crosses Spillway Road.

Thanks,
Jerry

The End of Construction – April 11, 2014

With the final 700 feet or so of Section 8 of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) completed, we mark today as the day on which the original plan for the Trail has been fulfilled!

Al Gathright and Jerry Shields have a lot to be proud of with the original plan for the LOViT completed after 12 years of planning and construction. (Click the iimage to view more photos.)

Al Gathright and Jerry Shields have a lot to be proud of with the original plan for the LOViT completed after 12 years of planning and construction. (Click the iimage to view more photos.)

Twelve years ago, Jerry Shields and Al Gathright began an effort to create a hiking and biking trail along the southern shore of Lake Ouachita with the intent not only to provide a terrific experience for those who enjoy this beautiful part of the country in which we live, but also to provide an additional tourist attraction to the area that would help bring “shoulder season” traffic to the resorts, restaurants, crystal shops, and other businesses in our area. Their goal has been realized with today’s completion of the LOViT as the Traildogs groomed the final stretch that emerged at the Trail’s easternmost trailhead near the Avery recreation area below Blakely Mountain Dam.

A fantastic cake provided by Brenda Meeks of the Corps of Engineers. (Click the iimage to view more photos.)

A fantastic cake provided by Brenda Meeks of the Corps of Engineers. (Click the iimage to view more photos.)

A great group of old and new Traildogs was joined by supporters from the U. S. Forest Service, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to celebrate the event. Following the smiles, back slapping, and picture taking at the trailhead, the team adjourned to the Stephens Park Pavilion across the Ouachita River from the Avery site for an old-fashioned cookout with hot dogs, sausages, plenty of chips and cookies, and a special cake provided by Brenda Meeks of the Corps of Engineers.

After all were done eating, Jerry led the traditional “Hatting Ceremony” wherein new Traildogs Jay Marsh and John Nichols were presented with their Traildog ball caps and mugs.  It was perhaps the first time any of us have witnessed either of these gentlemen at a loss for words!

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 over 12,000 hours of volunteer labor put into the project. This has indeed been a monumental effort.

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. 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.

A letter from Jerry Shields

Traildogs and Friends of the LOViT,

After twelve years of planning and ten years of construction, we have completed forty-five miles of trail and spurs, creating what is becoming one of Arkansas’ premier multi-use hiking and mountain biking trails.  We could not have completed this project without the support of our coalition members who have supported us through thick and thin.

The Traildog Volunteers have exceeded 12,000 hours of volunteer work on the Trail, and we have raised over two million dollars in grants, donations, in-kind work and land transfers, all necessary to create the LOViT.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Avery Recreation Area Trailhead

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Avery Recreation Area Trailhead (Click to see more photos from today’s event.)

We had a large group of volunteers on Friday, April 11th, who completed the last 2/10’s of a mile of hand finish work on the newly constructed link that takes the Trail down to the Corps of Engineers Avery Recreation Area just below the base of the Blakely Mountain Dam. In celebration of the completion, we had a noon cookout for all of that day’s volunteers, several visitors from the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas Wildlife Federation as well as several reporters. The Corps of Engineers provided a beautiful cake with the hiking sign symbol decorating the top. After enjoying some fire roasted hot dogs and brats, the volunteers fell on the cake like … well, a pack of starving dogs.

The final construction of Section Eight of the Trail has been completed, extending the LOViT from Brady Mountain Road 6.8 miles up and over both Brady Mountain and Blakely Mountain.  This includes a new vista just above the Blakely Mountain Dam, with views of the dam and the lake as well as a stunning view of the Ouachita River Valley south of the dam. The Trail then utilizes several switchbacks to traverse down the mountain to the Avery Recreation Area.

Avery will become the eastern terminus point of the LOViT and the ADA Trail the western Terminus; both will provide a large Day Use area with ample parking and restrooms. The Avery Recreation Area also offers a large group pavilion. These recreation areas will be excellent trailheads for any planned Trail events, including foot races and bike races.

We have begun installing trail directional signs and trail use signs on the new section to assist new users in staying on the trail and will be installing new trailhead maps along the trail at each official trailhead to assist users in planning their hikes or rides.

While the basic trail has now been completed, we still have a number of tasks to complete to make the LOViT the premier trail in Arkansas. We will be installing additional benches along the new section as well as building and installing trailhead signs at Avery and for the Spillway Recreation Area. We are also developing several trail interpretive signs along the length of the trail to provide information on the history of the Ouachita Forest, the geology of the area, as well as the flora and fauna found along the Trail.

A special word of thanks to all the dedicated Traildogs who have so faithfully supported this ten-year construction through all kinds of difficult terrain, weather conditions and a host of other issues that challenged our effort to complete the trail. We look forward to finding Traildog volunteers who adopt a section for the trail and assist in the ongoing maintenance and enhancements planned in the coming months.

We are planning an official opening of the entire LOViT system for early October, with the intent of having all the signage and benches installed for that special day. So, mark your calendars.

Trail Finish Work – April 2, 2014

A warm and humid day on the Trail today, but it didn’t slow down the seasoned Traildogs as we pushed the finish work further down the south flank of Blakely Mountain.

Armored and ready for hikers and bikers!

Armored and ready for hikers and bikers!

We completed finish work on the old tramway roadbed and down across the spring-fed creek at the bottom of the mountain. We spent a couple of hours armoring the very wet and muddy crossing of the creek as we began our approach up to the Corps’ security gate at the intersection of Rick’s Road and Blakely Dam Road.

We visited with the Progressive Trail Design Crew, who assured us they would complete the machine finish work to the Avery Recreation Area today.

John "The Rock Man" explaining how elves created this rock outcropping.

John “The Rock Man” explaining how elves created this rock outcropping.

We are scheduling our next and hopefully final workdays next week.  We are planning three scheduled workdays: Monday April 7th, Wednesday April 9, Friday April 11th, and, if necessary, Saturday, April 12th.

Once we determine our final day to complete this new and last section of the originally-planned Trail, we are planning to have a celebratory wiener roast on that day, presumably either Friday or Saturday at the Avery Recreation area. If you would like to be a part of the last day and the roast, please let us know. You can email us using the links on the Home page.

We will begin work at 9:00 am each day next week, with Monday’s meeting place being at the parking area to the right of the security Gate on Rick’s Road.

See you next week!

Jerry

Blakely Mountain Dam Vista – April 1, 2014

Spring and pollen are back as we began our descent of Blakely Mountain from the switchbacks leading down from the Blakely Mountain Dam vista site.

The Alpha Dog admiring the vista over Blakely Dam.  He stood at this spot when, over a year ago, we were laying out this last section of trail!

The Alpha Dog admiring the vista over Blakely Dam. He stood at this spot when, over a year ago, we were laying out this last section of trail!

Without the Trail, very few people have ever seen the view from this vista that overlooks the Dam and the bay leading up to the face of the dam. It is an area of large boulders that nature has taken time to paint with grey lichens and emerald moss.

A group of eager Ouachita Mountain Hikers came through our work site this morning, checking out the new trail from the security gate on Rick’s Road over to the Brady Mountain Road Trailhead. We could also see fresh mountain bike tread marks in the freshly turned soil on the trail. Seems everyone is ready to enjoy this new section!

A beautiful rock formation along the new tread.

A beautiful rock formation along the new tread. (34°34’6″ N 93°12’2″ W)

We had another crew of experienced trail groomers today, and we pushed the finished tread about halfway down the south face of Blakely Mountain through a steep, rocky grade requiring a lot of work to remove the loose rock from the steep angle of repose. At times, as you look down the trail at the Traildogs working an area like this one, we look like elves bending over looking for nuggets as we spend hours throwing rocks off the down slope to keep them off the new tread. Tomorrow will be another workday as we continue working the downslope of Blakely Mountain, which, due to yesterday’s short but heavy rainstorm, is a bit on the sticky side, but workable.

 

We will meet tomorrow, April 2, at 9:00 am at the intersection of Rick’s Road and Blakely Mountain Road, where you will see a security gate and a parking area just to the right of the gate.

Thank,

Jerry