This Serene State Park In The South Is A Hidden Gem With A Stunning Swimming Hole

Arkansas is blessed with many beautiful reserves and landscapes, making it the perfect state for a road trip. One of its most serene spots is the Lake Catherine State Park, which is nestled in the picturesque Ouachita Mountains. It is located a 20-minute drive from Hot Springs National Park, and it has its very own hidden gem swimming hole.

The park offers incredible opportunities to get out on the water, as well as hiking and horseriding. The park is also the ideal place for a family vacation, with a variety of accommodations available within the park's boundaries. This means you can get out and explore the water as soon as you wake up, as well as see wildlife before the day-trippers arrive. It is also an excellent spot for working on your paddling and boating skills while taking in one of the most peaceful state parks in Arkansas.

Things to do at Lake Catherine State Park

To get out on the water, you can rent a range of vessels for exploring the lake, including a pontoon boat, fishing boat, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, pedal boat, or water bike. There is also a beach for swimming, but there are no lifeguards. For anglers, the lake is full of different species of bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. Those who prefer to stay on land can hike the Falls Branch Trail, which is 1.7 miles long and brings you to the Falls Creek Falls, where you'll find a hidden swimming hole. 

The waterfall creates a natural swimming hole, where you can take a dip to cool off from your hike. There are also scenic picnic areas to enjoy a rest and a snack, and kids can burn off steam in the park's nearby playgrounds. Guided horse riding tours are also available at Lake Catherine State Park. As these trips are seasonal, make sure to call the park to reserve a horse and guide before embarking on your vacation.

Staying in the park

There are several options for staying in Lake Catherine State Park, mostly situated around the lake and offering amenities that will appeal to a wide range of visitors. The park offers 47 campsites with water, sewage, and electricity hook-ups for RVs, 23 with only water and electricity, and six primitive sites for tents. For those who want something more upmarket, there is one rentable yurt, and 20 cabins that come fully equipped, so you don't need to bring your own household items. 

One of these cabins is ideal for anglers, featuring a private fishing pier over the lake. Some of the cabins are also dog-friendly. These can all be booked in advance via the Arkansas State Park website. The campground is open year-round, so there are many adventures to be had in this underrated tourist spot. If you're road-tripping through the state and looking for more water activities in Arkansas, then Moro Bay State Park is another great spot to spend time in.