This trail segment begins at Denby Bay Trailhead where old US Highway 270 crosses the southern end of Lake Ouachita’s Denby Bay recreation area. There are two possible termination points: it is ~3 miles to the Homestead trailhead, or you can hike an additional 2 miles to the Tompkins Bend trailhead and campground near Shangri-La Resort.
The trail is light to medium grade as it meanders through several miles of high-canopy, old-growth forest. Take the half mile spur out to Sunset Vista, sit on one of the many benches along the trail, and watch the sun slowly melt into the surface of the lake. Expect golden photo opportunities as well as quiet spots of solitude. Look for Hush Hollow – a quiet little valley of streams covered with lush ferns and moss year round – Dogwood Draw, Old Breathless Hill, and Lunch Log Vista.
At a leisurely pace the full 5 mile leg to Tompkins Bend can be walked in two hours or biked in about an hour. But if you seek a shorter hike you may exit the trail at 2.9 miles, the Homestead trailhead parking area, located on Shangri La Road about 1.5 miles north of the US 270 turn off. See the map.
The entrance to the Watchable Wildlife Handicapped Accessible trail will be on your left as you approach this trailhead. The trailhead is at the lakeshore, and folks will probably be fishing there.
Easy to moderate.
None. See Accommodations.
Directions to Trailhead:
Go east from Mount Ida about 9 miles, or west from Hot Springs about 25 miles, on U.S. Highway 270 to Shangri-La Rd. You can’t miss the Shangri-La Resort sign on 270. Turn north off Highway 270 onto Shangri-La Road, travel a short distance, and then turn left onto Old Hwy 270. Pass the Watchable Wildlife trail segment on your left, and continue to the Denby Bay trailhead right at the edge of the lake.
Due to fluctuations in lake level, the trailhead may sometimes become submerged in spring. A high-water spur has been constructed directly across the road from the north end of the elevated walkway. This .5 mile spur connects to the first section of the trail. Look for a small sign at the start of the spur.
Lake Ouachita Shores Resort across the lake has lodging but no restaurant. However, there is a campground and the Shangri-La Resort & Restaurant near the Tompkins Bend trailhead, located adjacent to the entrance to the Tompkins Bend Campground.