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Can You Still Swim and Fish in Once-Beautiful Lake Catherine, Arkansas?

If you’ve never heard of Lake Catherine, Arkansas, get ready to fall in love.

This area has beautiful scenery and countless recreational opportunities. No matter how you like to experience the great outdoors, you’ll find something to enjoy.

Today, we’re getting all the details on this hidden gem so you can start planning your next trip.

Let’s hit it!

Young man jumping in an inflatable pink flamingo jumping into water similar to Lake Catherine
Swimming is allowed at Lake Catherine

About Lake Catherine

Lake Catherine State Park is a popular recreation area just east of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Yes, you can fish and swim in Lake Catherine! A marina and boat launch are available if you want to get out on the water. But there’s more to enjoy here than just casting a line. 

Park rangers lead guided hikes and interpretive tours throughout the year. And when the weather is nice, you can even join a horseback ride through the trails. Of course, you won’t want to miss the Falls Creek waterfall that flows year-round. It’s one of the park’s most popular attractions. 

Historic cabins dating to the 1930s hint at the land’s recent history. But its ancient past goes much deeper. The Ouachita people inhabited the land long before White settlers arrived.

Get the kids started with fishing: ODDSPRO Kids Portable Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Kit.

Where Is Lake Catherine?

Lake Catherine is on the far eastern end of the Ouachita Mountains. Unlike most mountain ranges in the US, the Ouachitas run east to west, spanning Arkansas and Oklahoma. The north and south-facing slopes have very different ecosystems, making the area a hotbed of biodiversity.

Among the 18,000 square miles of the Ouachita Mountains, you’ll find more than 150 native fish species. Around 40 other animals are endemic to the region. 

Locals are serious about preserving both the flora and fauna here. Dozens of state and national parks, wildlife management zones, and designated wilderness areas exist throughout the mountain range. 

Gently flowing rivers meander through dense, lush forests. Rolling hills give way to rocky outcroppings. And grassy meadows pop with colorful wildflowers.

Explore more with The Ouachita National Forest Road Trip Guide.

Is Lake Catherine a Man-Made Lake?

In the 1920s, Arkansas Power and Light built the Remmel Dam on the Ouachita River. In addition to hydroelectric power, the construction resulted in the creation of Lake Catherine. 

But locating Lake Catherine on a map isn’t easy. It’s technically part of the Ouachita River, between Remmel Dam and Lake Hamilton. The best way to find it is by heading to the state park. Locals consider the riverfront here part of the lake. 

We don’t really care about finding it on a map as long as we can enjoy some fun on the water. 

Best Hikes Near Lake Catherine

Hiking trails are abundant in Lake Catherine State Park. So put on your boots and get ready to explore some of the area’s striking scenery.

Falls Branch Trail

The most popular hiking path in the park is the Falls Branch Trail. And it’s no surprise that it leads to one of the top attractions in the park, the Falls Creek waterfall. 

This loop trail is just shy of two miles round-trip. Most folks consider it moderately challenging, and it could take between 45 minutes to one and a half hours to complete. You’ll want to take a camera for this one. The falls might be small, but they’re also beautiful!

Horseshoe Mountain Trail

You might want to check out the Horseshoe Mountain Trail for a longer trek through these enchanting woods. It’s a three-mile loop that takes you to the top of the ridge. You’ll enjoy scenic views, geological formations, and fields of wildflowers if you’re there in spring. 

They’ve recently added switchbacks, making the path easier to hike. Be sure to stay on the trail, as many areas have steep drop-offs. 

A woman paddles a boat while two young girls fish at a place similar to Lake Catherine
Lake Catherine is fun for the whole family

Best Places to Stay Near Lake Catherine

Make the most of your time in the state park and stick around for a while. Here are a few great places to rest your head while you’re here.

Lake Catherine State Park Campground

It’s hard to beat accommodations right in the park. And whether you want to dry camp or glamp it up, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. They offer primitive tent spaces, RV sites with full hookups, and even cabins and yurts for rent. 

Campers can access laundry facilities, full restrooms with hot showers, fire rings, and picnic tables. A dump station, trash service, and firewood are also available on-site. And, of course, you’ll have access to all the park’s top-notch amenities. 

Catherine’s Landing

Catherine’s Landing is the place to be for an ultra-family-friendly place to stay. You’ll find over 130 RV sites with full hookups and free WiFi. They also have a dog run, a general store, and a laundry room. And if you’d rather not camp, you can rent a cabin.

But Catherine’s Landing also offers plenty of entertainment. It’s on the Ouachita River, so you can swim and fish to your heart’s content. And the swimming pool, game room, and playground are sure to keep the kids busy. Best of all, a zip line runs through the property to get a bird’s eye view of the river. 

Discover more about Catherine’s Landing in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Is a Lake Catherine Road Trip Worth It?

Lake Catherine State Park has a lot to offer. And access to the water is just the tip of the iceberg. History, hiking trails, and family fun are everywhere you look. 

If you’re road-tripping through Arkansas or planning a visit to the nearby hot springs, add this spot to your list. However, it’s also a great standalone destination! We think you’ll be glad you gave it a chance.

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