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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Add a scenic loop to your Talimena Drive ride.

Anyone that has been riding motorcycles for long in North Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas has been asked "Have you ridden the Talimena Drive?"  The national scenic byway is a well known road stretching along the top of the Ouachita Mountain in Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas for 50+ miles and is a favorite destination for bikers throughout the region.

I have ridden the byway several times, but until recently I had not ridden many of the roads north of SH 1 a.k.a Talimena Drive (in Oklahoma).  On a nice Sunday afternoon I found myself with enough time to add some miles to my trip to Mena, Arkansas.  The map I had showed two roads with the little dots denoting "scenic" roads that would take me over the Ouachita Mountains and back, putting me in Talihina, the town just west of the entrance to the Talimena Drive.
Running on top of the mountains the Talimena Scenic Byway is spectacular (photo take from Rich Mountain Fire Tower, one of the stops on the byway)
I approached Talihina, OK from the west on SH 43.  20 miles west of Talihina SH 43 merges with SH 2 for about six miles and runs across the Sardis Lake dam.  Instead of turning right on SH 63/SH 1 towards Talihina I continued straight on SH 2 towards Wilburton, OK, 19 miles away.  The road quickly begin to ascend up the mountain range.  We all know that mountain roads are never straight so I was able to use the outer portion of my tires' tread. :)
Other bikers enjoying crossing the Ouachita Mountains
At Wilburton, OK I turned east on US 270 and rode to Red Oak, OK (14 miles) where I turned back south on SH 82 and crossed the range again.  SH 82 is being repaved in small stages.  The new pavement is in great shape, the older portions are in good to fair shape (average road quality).  I passed a lot of bikes while on the road, they were also enjoying the ride.
Twisties on SH 82
Once again the fun mountain road allowed me to lean the bike through some nice curves.  17.5 miles later SH 82 intersects SH 63 at the northern edge of Talihina, OK.

Although sadly closed on Sunday I stopped and took a picture at Treats and Treasures - one of my favorite spots in the area.  It is an antique shop with an old fashion soda fountain.  I was really hoping to get a shake or coke float, but the shop was closed so I had to settle for a snack and drink at a gas station in town.
Great place to treat yourself to an old fashion shake or ice cream -
at the intersection of SH 1 and SH 63 in Talihina
The loop from the SH 1/SH 63 intersecton to Wilburton, Red Oak, ending in Talihina is 50 miles.  I am really glad I added the loop to my route.  I enjoyed the roads and the scenery.  If you are in the area plan on riding the loop before or after you ride the Talimena Drive.  You will enjoy it.


  1. I love the picture of the twisties on SH 82. That's my kind of road!

  2. When I read your blog, it just makes me want to get a on a plane and see some thses places you talk about. Another great share.

  3. Gary & Raftnn should fly in to Texas and we can visit some great places. Just don't come from late June to Sept. unless you like 100+ degree weather.

    One day I hope to riding in your home lands.

  4. Beautiful roads and a beautiful day! I too love the pic of the twisties. Too bad about the little shop being closed. Sounds like it would have been a nice little treat to go with the day.

  5. Any road that has an icecream stop has to be a great road!

  6. Thanks for the great review. Sorry we missed you on that Sunday. We try to be open on Sundays during the fall season and for special events. If a group is wanting to come up on a Sunday, just let me know and I will try to accomodate you.