The Crystal Springs to Brady Mountain Road trail segment begins at the Crystal Springs Campground pavilion on Crystal Springs Rd. and travels across Little Bear Mountain to Little Bear Creek at the base of Bear Mountain; this stretch is also called “Leg 6” or “Segment 6” of the LOViT. Then, from Little Bear Creek, “Leg 7” (or “Segment 7”) of the Trail climbs the southern side of Bear Mountain and then traverses the northern side of the summit all the way to Brady Mountain Road.
Other than the Crystal Springs Road crossing about a mile south of the trailhead at the Crystal Springs Pavilion, this part of the LOViT is the longest one can travel without crossing any roads.
Little Bear Mountain is very steep, making this trail segment one of the more challenging sections of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. The canopy permits more light than most of the other trail segments and, above the six severe switchbacks, there is no canopy.
Two major creeks are traversed via Boulder Fords, a feature unique to the LOViT. Despite the difficulty, the Crystal Springs Trail segment offers a peek at a campground beach where the laughter of swimming children echoes through the trees and, as the Trail climbs, it offers unprecedented views of valleys and creeks and a nice cascade waterfall near the termination. Cone flowers and coreopsis abound in the Spring.
Moving east, the climb from Little Bear Creek up Bear Mountain is also very steep and rugged, with a couple of switchbacks that deserve care and respect to cross. But, once on top, you will be greeted with beautiful winter views of Lake Ouachita from west of the Crystal Springs Chute all the way beyond Brady Mountain to the east. The trail follows the north side of the mountain just below the summit, with several long climbs up and down along the way.
If you walk/ride to the termination point of Segment 6 at Little Bear Creek, or if you decide to head on up Bear Mountain, the only way out is to backtrack or to follow the Trail to Brady Mountain Road. Similarly, if you enter at the Brady Mountain Road trailhead and head west toward Crystal Springs, your choice is an out-and-back hike or a 10 mile trek to Crystal Springs Road.
Take food and plenty of water!
This is a long trek – about 10 miles from Crystal Springs Road to Brady Mountain Road – with no takeouts.
The Crystal Springs trailhead is located adjacent to the Crystal Springs Campground and the Crystal Springs Resort.
3.5 miles from the Pavilion at Crystal Springs to the termination of Segment 6 at Little Bear Creek. Another 6.5 miles of tread on Segment 7 from Little Bear Creek, up Big Bear Mountain, and finishing on Brady Mountain Road.
Very strenuous. Steep climbing with several severe switchbacks.
The Crystal Springs Campground and Crystal Springs Resort, and Brady Mountain Resort offer lodging, water, bathrooms, a full service marina, and seasonal food. There are no amenities at either the Crystal Springs Road or Brady Mountain Road crossings.
Directions to Trailhead:
From Mount Ida traveling east, or from Hot Springs traveling west, take US Highway 270 to Crystal Springs Road and turn north toward Crystal Springs Resort. Go about 2.5 miles, and you will see the campground pavilion on the left side of the road. Park at the pavilion (34°32’28.9”N 93°21’05.5”W).
To go east on the Crystal Springs trail, walk past the trailhead sign and the pavilion to an opening marked with a tree blaze and a sign.
To enter this trail segment from the east, take Brady Mountain Road just west of Royal, AR, and follow the road toward Brady Mountain Resort (34°33’31”N 93°15’37”W).
The Crystal Springs Campgrounds offers RV and tent camping, most with electricity. Crystal Springs Resort offers lodging, marina, restaurant, and other services. Likewise, there are lodging and campground facilities at Brady Mountain Resort. Some services are seasonal, so be sure to check with the resort for details.