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Little River, Oklahoma
Report by Marc W. McCord

Pine Creek Lake to SH 41 near Horatio, Arkansas
~ 46.5 miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Lower Little River, flowing out from Pine Creek Lake into Arkansas and its Red River confluence, is a flatwater stream that retains the natural and unspoiled nature of the upper river above the lake. In the vicinity of Idabel the river forms the northern boundry of Ouachita National Forest, and a few more small towns can be found along this reach than are on the upper river, though most are not right on the river itself. Easy access from SH 98 is available at Wright City, as well as on an unnamed road between Glover and SH 87 near Garvin. The Lower Mountain Fork River flows into the Little River a few miles southeast of Broken Bow and south of Eagletown very near the Arkansas State Line. The entire Oklahoma reach of the Lower Little River is within Pushmataha and McCurtain Counties of far southeastern Oklahoma, though most of it flows in McCuratin County. This section of the river is very scenic and easy enough for anybody to paddle. Since it derives its flow from dam releases at Pine Creek Lake, augmented by runoff from local rainfall, the river frequently flows at navigable levels very near the Texas and Arkansas borders.


McCurtain County of far southeastern Oklahoma, flowing out from Pine Creek Lake east across the Arkansas border, then south to its Red River confluence just northeast of the Texas-Louisiana border.

Distance from major cities

Oklahoma City 230 miles; Tulsa 193 miles; Dallas 170 miles; Austin 360 miles; San Antonio 440 miles; Houston 340 miles; Little Rock 200 miles; Kansas City 442 miles; Albuquerque 772 miles; Phoenix 1,211 miles; Denver 855 miles; Salt Lake City 1,331 miles (all distance are approximate depending upon starting point, destination at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality in the Lower Little river is usually very good to excellent, flowing clean, clear and cool to cold from Pine Creek Lake. Dam releases augmented by local rainfall runoff provide a navigable flow most of the time except during the peak summer months or a period of extended drought.

Best Times to Go

Almost any time except July through September is good for trips on the Lower Little River, but check the USGS gauge at Idabel before departing from a long distance away.

Hazards to Navigation

There are no major hazards to navigation on the Lower Little River, which flows as a flatwater stream from Pine Creek Dam to its Red River confluence in Arkansas.

River access points

Dam access road between SH 3 and immediately below the dam off N4470 Road north of Valiant and Mound Grove at 0.0 miles; Unnamed access road just east from N4470 Road at about 1.0 miles; N4490 Road west of Wright City and off SH 98 where it turns south just west of Wright City at about 2.5 miles; SH 98 at Wright City at about 6.0 miles; E2090 Road at Possum Ford Bend just north of Garvin at about 16.0 miles; unnamed county road running south from E2100 Road southwest of Holly Creek and northwest of Idabel at about 21.0 miles; US Highway 259 bridge south of Broken Bow at about 25.0 miles (poor access with VERY limited parking - avoid except in an emergency); Unnamed McCurtain County Road running north from E2140 Road on river right at about 31.0 miles; Ashalintubbi Public Access about 6.5 miles below the Mountain Fork River confluence at about 36.3 miles; Arkansas SH 41 bridge south of Horatio, Arkansas at about 46.5 miles. There may be other access points within Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma between US Highway 259 and Arkansas SH 41.

WARNING! Some of these access roads are logging roads and may be in really bad shape that makes traversing them difficult, especially when there is water on the roads. They may be deeply rutted with ruts hidden by standing water. Proceed carefull anytime, but especially when there is standng water on these roads. They are NOT maintained for passenger vehicle traffic. Some may require high clearance, 4 wheel drive vehicles to negotiate.

Campgrounds and Accommodations

There are no commercial campgrounds located along this reach of the Little River. Motel accommodations are available in Wright City, Idabel, Broken Bow and Garvin. Natural campsites can be found on river right in the Ouachita National Forest below US Highway 259 and on river islands all along the Little River.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no known outfitters located along the Lower Little River. Rentals, shuttles and information may be available from outfitters located along the Upper and Lower Mountain Fork River at Smithville and Broken Bow, otherwise paddlers should take their own boats and gear, then run their own shuttles.

Reviewer's comments

The Lower Little River is a flatwater stream of immense natural beauty in the extreme southeastern corner of Oklahoma running across the state line into Arkansas. After crossing the state line the river is fed by the waters from the Cossatot and Saline Rivers, two excellent whitewater streams in southwestern Arkansas, before reaching its confluence with the Red River near the Texas-Louisiana border. Trips that begin on the Lower Mountain Fork River have the option of ending at any of the access points along the Lower Little River. Since no services are available along the river paddlers need to be prepared with everything they need for their trips, which can be one or more days depending upon personal preferences. Ouachita National Forest is very scenic, and offers excellent camping opportunities for those continuing past or starting at US Highway 259 south of Broken Bow. Since there are no hazards of any prominence along this river almost any able-bodied person can enjoy trips in canoes or kayaks, though it would not be the best rafting river because of gentle currents and an often narrow channel. Tale along a camera to preserve memories of a beautiful Oklahoma river.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to II
Length ~ 46.5 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Dam Access Road
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out US Highway 59/71
Lat. / Long.
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Idabel
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season local rainfall dependent
Permits No

Ambush Adventures - Southeast Oklahoma's Largest Canoe Outfitter

WW Trading Post & Canoe Rentals on Oklahoma's Lower Mountain Fork River

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Little River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

[ Little River Homepage ] [ Honobia to Pine Creek Lake ]
[ Upper Mountain Fork River ] [ Lower Mountain Fork River ]
[ Bok tu kolo Creek ] [ Buffalo Creek ] [ Eagle Fork Creek ] [ Glover River ]

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Last updated October 29, 2014

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