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The definitive Ozark Highlands Trail Guide

Ozark Highlands Trail Guide by Tim Ernst

Are there bears, and are they dangerous?

Yes, there is an expanding population of black bears in the forests along the trail. Are they dangerous – not really. Most of the black bears are quite small – less than a hundred pounds – and are afraid of humans. Some of them are much larger though, and have lost their fear of man. Bears do not hibernate in Arkansas, but rather dig themselves back into rock formations and even down into large hollow trees, and spend the winter months sleeping. In the late spring and early summer they come out looking for food. If you have food stored inside your tent at night, you just might come face to face with a hungry bear – NEVER keep any food or other sweet items (like toothpaste) inside your tent at night. The best method is to “bear bag” your food, or carry a bear proof container. We probably receive a dozen or so reports of bear sightings on the trail per year – they are vary rare, and if you see a bear, chances are it will only be a quick glimpse of his hind end as he runs away from you. The two most populated sections of the trail with bears are the White Rock Mountain area and the Horn Mountain Area (east end of the trail). There are no grizzly bears in the wild in Arkansas.