This is a great route for a beginner to intermediate hike for anyone that loves the beauty of the forest. Since this hike is primarily along the valley, there are only a few views, but the pine forest and rock formations are what set this trail apart!
There are abundant opportunities for camp spots and also plenty of water sources during the winter months. During the summer or dry years there are also several spots to cache water along the Holson Valley Road.
This route starts off at the BST Trailhead on the Holson Valey Road with a quick connector trail up to the BST. At the intersection, take a left and following the white and yellow blazes. You are now on the BST/Choctaw Nation trail (marked as INT). You'll cross a few forest service roads and many creeks and washes through this section that can make good water sources during the wetter months.
At mile 5.6 is the intersection to go up the mountain to the Ouachita Trail. Keep straight and fallow the Yellow blazed Equestrian trail 4D. We will be following 4D for about the next 7 miles. It is an excellent trail that is well marked. At mile 7.7, you should come out two a doubletrack and take a hard right keep the barbed wire fence and the creek on your left. Follow it all the way to near the back of this ravine where the trail cuts right and heads uphill and over a pass of sorts.
Eventually, the trail runs into a wonderful doubletrack covered in pine needles, which is a very welcome break after that climb we just did. But don't get used to it because at mile 9.9, the trail cuts off to the right and heads down hill towards Allen Branch creek which was flowing nicely. After crossing Allen Branch, the trail heads back up hill to the highest point on this trip at about 1,249 feet.
At mile 12.5, you'll come out to a road. Take a hard right and cross a concrete low water crossing. Straight ahead, you'll see a beautiful stand of pine and another yellow marker. This is where you'll take a left on Equestrian trail 4C, also blazed in yellow. This section mostly follows what looks like an old logging road all the way up a small valley over the crest and directly back down the adjacent valley around.
At mile 14.8, you'll come out on to another forest service road again take a hard right and follow this road, now your on Equestrian trail 4. Stay on this road for almost 2 miles! At mile 16.1, you should see the first intersection of the Horsethief Springs Trail
. Keep straight on the road for just a half mile or so until on your right, you'll see the other cutoff for the Horsethief Springs loop.
At this point, we veer right and follow the white blazes! You are now on the west side of the Horsethief Springs loop. the trail will take you along the crest of a hill that has many dead pines and lots of blow downs before skirting around the south side of Snake Mountain. Take a left and head on to Cedar Lake. Keep following the white blazes across Holson Valley Road, just 1.5 miles to the parking!