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This Arkansas State Park is a Hidden Gem

A nature escape at beautiful Lake Ouachita State Park near Hot Springs.

Not far from Hot Springs, view wildflowers and a pretty lake on a peaceful hike. Get out on the water on a boating adventure and more at this Arkansas State Park that’s a hidden jewel!

At Lake Ouachita State Park, guide Susan Adkins recently led me on a hike along the Caddo Bend Trail. This four mile hike normally takes about three hours to complete, but it’s only a mile and a half to get to the Point 50 Overlook, a top place for scenic views of this 40,000 acre lake.

Discovering unique fauna on the trails

Discovering unique fauna on the trails

Along the route colorful wildflowers were around every bend and we crossed a variety of big rock outcroppings. Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, no homes have been built around the lake, making for unmarred, natural views. This state park is frequented by locals and travelers who go hiking, but also enjoy geocaching. After a somewhat sweaty hike, we were rewarded with a pontoon boat ride. While the views from Point 50 were great, the views from the water were equally superb.

View from Point 50 Overlook

View from Point 50 Overlook

Lush, green trees cascade up around the edges of the lake, reminding me of parts of Vermont. There are more than 100 uninhabited islands on Lake Ouachita, and travelers can rent a boat and stake claim to their own little island, camping out. We saw people kayaking, fishing, and high-speed tubing along our ride. I was surprised to learn that scuba diving is popular at the lake. Anglers come to catch bream, stripers, crappie, catfish and largemouth bass.

Fun on the lake

Fun on the lake

Being out on the lake reminded me of summer, fun and an all-American vacation. It also sent me back to my days at summer camp at a mountain lake, enjoying nature in all its glory.

Darley and Susan on Lake Ouachita

Darley and Susan on Lake Ouachita

How you can go: Lake Ouachita State Park is located about a half hour’s drive from Hot Springs and less than an hour and a half from Little Rock at 5451 Mountain Pine Road, Mountain Pine, AR 71956.

Watch for this state park in our “Southern States Road Trip” episode, coming to Public Television this winter. Check your local PBS stations listings for dates and times and watch a preview of the first season episodes.

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