Lake Ouachita Geo Float Trail

The Geo float trail was the first water-based interpretive trail included in the National Trails System. The Geo float trail was a project of the US Army Corps of Engineers , the Arkansas Geological Commission, and the US Geological Survey.

Lake Ouachita Geo-Float Trail guides boaters around Lake Ouachita, highlighting and describing many geological formations unique to the area.

The trail is a 16 mile trip with twelve exploration areas from the Spillway Recreation Area to Brady Mountain Recreation Area , and will take about 1 1/2 hours to complete depending on your speed and the time you spend at each stop.

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Contact Corps of Engineers at 501-767-2101 for information on the Geo Float trail, and Contact Lake Ouachita State Park (800) 264-2441 to schedule a tour of the Geo Float Trail.

The Geo-Float Trail calls attention to the special beauty of the area and gives visitors an increased understanding of the formation of the Ouachita Mountains.

You can get the free Self Guided Float Trip map from the the Spillway or Brady Landing on Lake Ouachita, or the local Corps of Engineers, and you will be set to follow the yellow marker buoys around Lake Ouachita.

For group tours of 15 or more (must be a bonafide interested group, not a family reunion), when you provide the boat, the Corps of Engineers will provide a ranger to accompany the trip and explain the lake features.

Lake Ouachita is located 13 miles northwest of Hot Springs, in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains.

“Welcome to Rockhounding Arkansas” by Mike and Darcy Howard, great information about mineral collecting in Arkansas.

The 12 Stop Geo Tour

A. Whirlpool Rock
Named for the whirlpool that existed at its base when the Ouachita River flowed freely, this cliff is made of 450-million-year-old sandstone turned on edge.

B. Submarine Slide
This conglomeration of boulders, pebbles, cobblestones and sedimentary rocks is the result of a giant underwater mudslide created by an ancient earthquake. As the rocks and stones slid down the continental shelf, they mixed with mud, silt and sand, and eventually the whole concoction was compressed into stone.

C. Zebra Rock
One of the richest quartz-crystal districts in the world, the quartz is known as Arkansas diamonds. Spectacularly displayed at Lake Ouachita’s famed Zebra Rock. The milky-white quartz “gash veins” pop out against the dark sandstone cliff.

D. Recumbent fold
A wavelike pattern of rock cause by the collision of continental plates in this cliff face. An impressive type of geologic folding, where the layers of sandstone were compressed and bent over one another into an S curve.

E. Mountains and valleys
Millions of years of erosion wore away this region’s softer rock, shale, slate and limestone, leaving behind the harder substances, such as sandstone, that lie at the core of those long, thin ridges.

F. Rolling stones
Sandstone boulders that came from the outcrop up the hill, the mystery is what brought them down here to this shale beach. There are two leading suspects: The constant freezing and thawing of the last ice age could have broken them free, or perhaps it was one of the many major flash floods from a period of time when Arkansas was much drier.

G. Geologic fish shelter
Though this group of boulders is not as prominent a geologic feature as others on the map, it’s worth a stop on your next fishing trip because the large cracks between the boulders provide excellent shelter for bait fish, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by their predators.

H. Checkerboard Point
One look, and the name makes sense. And though this pattern of cubelike stones almost seems unnatural it is the result of sandstone bent to its breaking point when these mountains were formed.

I. Mini-caves
The newest geologic formation on the lake, these miniature caves can be found all over Lake Ouachita and are the result of the lake’s waves wearing away at the soft lime that cemented the rocks in place.

J. Mother Nature’s beach
These natural beaches on the lake soft particles under your feet are Granulated Bigfork Chert a rock famous in these parts for being one of the best aquifers around.

K. Folds and faults
Lake Ouachita is located at the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, where the greatest deformation occurred when the mountains were formed. As a reminder of just how geologically complex the region is, this stop features a recumbent fold topped by a wavelike fault.

L. Sticks and stones
The last stop along the trail is all about the subtle ways geology shapes the world around us. Looking up at this ridge, you’ll notice pines to your left and eastern red cedar to your right. That’s because the soil in which the pines grows is made of sandstone, while the cedars grow on soil made from shale and slate – a poor soil in which only the cedar tree can thrive. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Learn more.