The United States Congress designated the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 13,139 acres
It is managed by the Forest Service.
Shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas, this area contains the 13-mile-long, rugged ridge of Black Fork Mountain. Large rock flows or "glaciers" and sandstone bluffs stand above a forest dominated by oak and shortleaf pine. The northern slopes support hardwoods with an open understory. A forest of dwarf oaks adds to the cover of vegetation, which includes several unique plant species, such as serviceberry and granddaddy graybeard, hidden away in small coves. There are no maintained trails on the Oklahoma side, and you'll find the hiking to be challenging.
On the Arkansas side, the Black Fork Mountain Trail, six miles long one-way, passes several pioneer sites dating back to the late 1800s as it winds its way to the top of Black Fork Mountain, over 2,400 feet above sea level. The mountain is actually a 13-mile-long east-west ridge, a geologic uplift that runs well into Oklahoma. The Wilderness boundary also follows the ridge into Oklahoma.
Some of the slopes near the top of the ridge on the Oklahoma side are nearly vertical. Rock scree slopes, sometimes called rock "glaciers," flow off in many locations. In both states the ridge rises to scenic overlooks that offer spectacular vistas of this region. Lower slopes are heavily forested with shortleaf pine, blackjack oaks, and ancient dwarf oaks. Solitude reigns here, as Black Fork Mountain receives few human visitors.
Some of the shrubs and trees in the area are seldom seen anywhere else in this region. Beyond the Ouachita River and Big Creek, which border the Wilderness, the area holds no water except for two small springs on the mountain that flow most of the year. The hiking is considered difficult.