The United States Congress designated the East Fork Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 10,585 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Arkansas
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The East Fork of Illinois Bayou, from which this area takes its name, bisects the Wilderness from northeast to southwest, fed by water from Bear Hollow, Mill Creek, and Sycamore Creek. On the southern edge of the Boston Mountains, East Fork is characterized by flat-topped ridges that rise 800 to 1,600 feet above sea level and are separated by steep hollows, some with sheer sandstone walls. Two seasonal ponds are bordered by overcup oak, but the principal trees are white and red oak and hickory with an understory of redbud, dogwood, serviceberry, sassafras, and persimmon. East Fork bears the scars left by early inhabitants: old homesteads and farms, a cemetery, the remains of old roads. Four parking lots give access to three trails tracing abandoned routes. The East Fork Trail runs the length of the Wilderness, but the most beautiful scenery can be found along the hollows off the trail. Primitive camping is possible throughout the area. Wandering off-trail, you may find evidence of the Osage Indians who lived in this region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Nature has been given the freedom to reclaim East Fork Wilderness.