Twenty Miles to Wild Arkansas

Credit: Johnny Carrol Sain

Twenty miles from Little Rock, Arkansas, is the remote Flatside Wilderness area. Filled with diverse plants and animals on more than 9,507 acres, this incredible place became one of the first federally protected lands in the state of Arkansas. This protected area was recently expanded by the Flatside Wilderness Enhancement Act, introduced by Representative French Hill (AR District 2),

Located within the far-flung eastern portions of the Ouachita National Forest, the forest lands in and around the Flatside Wilderness provide hunters, anglers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts with unique challenges and extraordinary opportunities for solitude.

The Ouachita Darter is a species found only in a few streams in the Ouachita Mountain range. Photo: Dustin Lynch, AR Natural Heritage Commission.

Flatside Wilderness has the highest level of protection granted to federal public lands. Black bear, turkey, rare aquatic species, endangered plants and animals, and other wildlife thrive in the protected forests, rivers, and streams.

Federally protected natural habitats such as this are devoted to the public for recreation, scientific study, education, and conservation. With some exceptions, they are off-limits to new roads, timber harvesting, mining, oil and gas exploration, and other commercial activities.

Whether enjoying a hike along the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, taking a dip in the falls on Little Cedar Creek, or gazing at the spectacular views a top Forked Mountain, outdoor enthusiasts will never run out of activities.

Red-cockaded woodpeckers (a federally endangered species) require open pine woodlands and savannahs with large mature pines including the native shortleaf pines of the Flatside Wilderness. Photo: NWF

In January, Congress passed the Flatside Wilderness Enhancement Act to expand the protected area by 640 acres. It also instructs the U.S. Forest Service to assess an additional 1,100 acres of wilderness and automatically incorporate them if deemed in need of protection.

The protection of these additional wilderness lands is a true conservation win for Arkansas and for wildlife. The Arkansas Wildlife Federation, in partnership with National Wildlife Federation, was proud to be a part of the effort to pass the Flatside Wilderness Enhancement Act.

For more information about our state affiliate, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, please visit

Learn more!

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

– Wilderness Act of 1964