For the last several years we have been sharing this ranking of trail runs. It was getting a little dated with the growth of great trail-running venues throughout the state. It was time for a new survey. Survey participants had the opportunity to pick their three favorite trail running events. For some reason, we missed including the Back 40 Trail Run in the list but the write-ins got it into the top 15. 35 races received at least one vote. With the exception of the difference between first and second place, there was no difference greater than 5 votes between any places.
Here are your top 15 Trail Run picks:
#15 – Ozark Highlands Endurance Run – 2.80% (link)
The 1.2-million acre Ozark-St. Francis National Forests offer endless opportunities for adventure. As one of America’s most scenic and picturesque areas, the Ozark-St. Francis provides a lot of the “natural” in the Natural State of Arkansas. The trail traverses through numerous hollows and takes participants across some of the most rugged and remote terrain in the Ozark National Forest. Runners follow the Ozark Highlands Trail-Sylamore Section on an out & back course.
#14 – Ouachita Trail 50K/50M – 2.96% (link)
The OT50 was started by a group of early Arkansas ultra runners who came together, drew from their various ultra race experiences, and committed to putting on a quality fifty miler in Arkansas. As the oldest enduring Arkansas Ultra Running Association event, that intent lives on. The 50-mile and 50 km runs feature a picturesque climb over Pinnacle Mountain followed by an out-and-back traversing the rolling hills along the north shore of beautiful Lake Maumelle. Get ready for scenic, rocky, single-track as you tour Pinnacle Mountain State Park and the eastern part of the 222-mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail.
#12 Tie – Sylamore Trail Run – 3.13% (link)
A winter run featuring creek crossings and often snow and ice. Starting in Allison, Arkansas, just north of Mountain View, the road start soon becomes a rugged trail run along the Sylamore Creek below bluff lines. This run is punctuated by the crossing of Sylamore Creek near the start and finish of the run. You’ve seen the hoodie worn at cool weather races and in your favorite brewery for years.
#12 Tie – Hoof it for Heifer – 3.13% (link)
Hoof it For Heifer is a 20k trail run on the Boy Scouts of America Trail in Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton, AR. On this trail, you will pass through many of the diverse plant and animal habitats on Petit Jean Mountain – from the lush vegetation of Cedar Creek Canyon to the desert-like conditions of Seven Hollows. All are represented on this trail. The trail is technical and beautiful.
#11 – Lake Ouachita Vista Trail Marathon – 3.45% (link)
Running on the south side of Lake Ouachita and utilizing the western section of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. The trail flows beautifully with views of the lake and few creek crossings.
#9 Tie – Back 40 Trail Run – 4.28% (link)
Located in Bella Vista, Arkansas the trails feature over 80 miles of pure Arkansas singletrack. Dirt, rocks, roots, ravines, bridges, waterfalls – we have it all. This two-day event, brought to you by the organizers of the award-winning War Eagle Trail Races and the City of Bella Vista, brings folks together to race through the woods. Push some limits, and have a blast doing it while providing funds to maintain and improve the trail system.
#9 Tie – Hot Springs National Park Trail Run – 4.28% (link)
Starting and finishing in historic downtown Hot Springs, this race covers one of the most unique National Parks in the country. Runners experience both ridgeline running and get deep into the hollows of the park. The start and finish is at Fat Jack’s Oyster Sports Bar & Grill on Central Avenue (Scenic Highway 7).
#8 – 3 Days of Syllamo – 5.10% (link)
Three Days of Syllamo annual gathering at Blanchard Springs in the middle of March is old school trail running at its purest. The event was created by Steve Kirk in 2005 and has become a yearly pilgrimage to the Ozarks for many adventure seekers, reuniting for a weekend of challenging races, fellowship, and the opportunity to become one of the SYLLAMOPEOPLE!
Over the course of three days, runners will experience the Sylamore, Syllamo, and Ozark Highlands Trails. Winding, climbing, and descending through the rugged Sylamore Ranger District including several creek crossings, past scenic vistas and bluffs, and through dense forest
#6 Tie – Styx and Stones – 5.26% (link)
Much of the trail is very technical. Don’t plan to run a personal best here. Enjoy the great outdoors and exercise your demons. Expect any combination of sticks, stones, boulders, mud, scree, grit, trail debris, rocks, sand, slippery rocks, roots, and loose rocks…
#6 Tie – Northwoods Mullet Trail Run – 5.26% (link)
One awesome trail run in the front with a super dope party in the back!! This race covers much of the Cedar Glades and Northwoods Trails near Hot Springs. Wear a mullet and enter the competition before you even take your first step on the trail. Food, beverages, and entertainment are available at the finish.
#5 – Arkansas Traveller 100 – 5.76% (link)
The Arkansas Traveller is one of the oldest 100 miles races there is. What makes the AT100 so unique among the many ultras today is the combination of volunteer support from many in the running community and beyond, the beautiful scenery of the Ouachita Trail and Forest Service roads, and the sneaky-hard runnable hills that will challenge you from the beginning to end. This race is considered by many to be a great first 100 for anyone looking to test themselves at the premier ultra distance. But, every year we are filled with past Traveller finishers that come back again and again to this incredible race.
#4 – LOViT 100M/100K – 5.92% (link)
Ankles of Steel…Iron Will. That’s what you’ll need to take on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail challenge – an endurance run of rocky, rolling hills and ridge lines that will take you along the southern rim of one of America’s most pristine freshwater lakes and through the ruggedly beautiful Ouachita National Forest. The Start and finish is at the beautiful Mountain Harbor Resort on the shores of Lake Ouachita.
#3 – Full Moon 25K, 50K – 6.58% (link)
Full Moon 25k/50k/50m is the Ultra Trail Series season kickoff race and a celebration event honoring the birthdays of favorite AURA Queens. The race is great for first-time trail and ultra runners, pavement pounders, and PRs! The out-and-back course is set on rolling Forest Service Roads. The run starts at Camp Ouachita Girl Scout Camp in the Ouachita National Forest. There are restrooms onsite and showers at the campground nearby we have paid for your use. So plan to stick around for the after-party. They serve breakfast just like in the old days. They also have regular goods and super cold watermelon for sure!
#2 – War Eagle Running Festival – 8.72% (link)
The Hobbs War Eagle Trail Running Festival began back in 2006 as a 10-mile trail race with a couple of dozen participants. During the first few years, the event was known as the Hobbs Tail Twister benefiting the Rogers Lions Club. The trails at Hobbs are among the most “runnable” in NW Arkansas. Not too technical or steep. Perfect for first-time trail racers or veterans wanting to cover the trails as fast as possible.
#1 – Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon – 10.03% (link)
The Athens-Big Fork Trail Marathon and Blaylock Creek 17-Mile Fun Run take place on the Athens-Big Fork Trail. This is actually a 100-year-old horse postal trail. After running this, you will wish you had a horse! The course is an out-and-back course. You will first run 2-1/2 miles on roads – paved and gravel up to the start of the trail. Then you enter the Athens-Big Fork Trail – White Blazes. Follow the trail over 8 mountains.
Make sure to take our May survey on your favorite way to hangout in Arkansas.