It is a pretty little forested park on the banks of Lake Catherine.
Note: It was winter and the lake had been drawn down lower than normal when many of these photos in this post were taken.
Lake Catherine State Park in Arkansas.
This state park has many amenities. It is perfect for those who love fishing and water activities. It also has some great hiking trails including Falls Branch Trail which is one of our Arkansas favorites.
You will find areas for both RV and tent camping, as well as a yurt and some cabins.
Read on to learn all about this little gem of a state park.
Location of Lake Catherine State Park
You can arrive at the park from I-30 by taking exit 97 and following the signs. They will lead you onto AR-171 which will take you to Catherine Park Road and straight into the park.
Cost to Visit Lake Catherine State Park
The park is free to visit for day visitors. Check their website regarding fees for lodging and camping.
Are Dogs Allowed?
Yes! Dogs are allowed at the park. They must be on leases and you are asked to clean up after them.
Contact Information for Lake Catherine State Park
Lake Catherine State Park
1200 Catherine Park Rd.
Hot Springs, AR 71913-8605
For reservations, book online or call 1-877-879-2741.
About Lake Catherine
Lake Catherine is one of 5 lakes in the Ouachita Mountain region called the Diamond Lakes. In addition to Lake Catherine the other Diamond lakes are Lake Ouachita, Lake Hamilton, Lake Greeson, and Degray Lake.
Lake Catherine is the smallest of the Diamond Lakes at 1,940 acres.
Even though it is not a huge lake as far as acreage, Lake Catherine is 11 miles long. It is stretched through the narrow valleys of the Ouachita Mountains.
History of Lake Catherine and Lake Catherine State Park
The lake was created by Remmel Dam, the state’s first major hydroelectric project, in 1924.
The donated land was officially designated a state park on August 22, 1935, making it the first of a number of state parks that would eventually be located beside major man-made lakes.
The Civilian Conservation Corps began park construction in 1937. The park opened that year after construction of a road to the then-remote site.
Evidence of those days can still be seen today in the park’s rustic CCC-style wood and stone architecture.
From 1942 to 1945, the park was used as a rest-and-recreation satellite facility for wounded servicemen. German prisoners of war were employed to complete certain structures begun by the CCC.
Fishing on Lake Catherine State Park
You can participate in water sports on Lake Catherine, but it is especially known for fishing.
Anglers come to the lake for its largemouth bass, spotted bass and striped bass, crappie, bream, and catfish and walleye fishing.
Amenities at Lake Catherine State Park
Stop by the Visitor Center and store for information or to register for a campsite. The employees here are always super kind and helpful. The center also has nice maps of the park.
The store has snacks, groceries, T-shirts and souvenirs. All the things that you might need while in the park or out on the water.
The only full service marina on Lake Catherine is at the park. It is open in the summertime for bait, snacks/drinks, and fuel.
In the summer you can also rent party barges, fishing boats and motors as well as fuel, bait and tackle.
If you want to go un-motorized they have canoes, kayaks, water bikes, and pedal boats available for rent.
You can bring your own boat and use the launch ramp free of charge. Parking in the marina parking lot is also free.
Picnic areas, Pavilions, and Playgrounds
There is a large picnic area available for day use with a nice children’s playground. The picnic area is first come first serve. This would be a nice place for a child’s birthday party.
A large pavilion is available to be reserved for larger groups for a fee. Check with the Visitor Center for availability.
There is a nice sandy swimming beach near the Visitor Center. Do note that the beach does not have a lifeguard.
Guided horseback riding is available daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and on the weekends through Thanksgiving.
Interpretive Programs and Nature Cabin
A nature cabin houses exhibits which relate to the cultural history of the park and its natural environment. The nature cabin is open Memorial Day weekend – Labor Day.
During the spring, summer, and fall months, park interpreters offer guided hikes, scenic lake cruises, nature talks and demonstrations.
Be sure to check to see what the park rangers are offering while you are there!
Trails at Lake Catherine State Park
There are four nice trails at the state park. Three of the four start at the same spot near the campgrounds but take different routes.
Falls Branch Trail
Falls Branch Trail is a lovely walk in the woods! It is not too strenuous and is good for all ages.
This trail winds through the pine/hardwood forests of the park, crossing Little Canyon Creek several times. It eventually leads to a waterfall on Falls Creek and then works its way back to the trailhead.
This trail is just a little under 2 miles round trip.
NOTE: The waterfall is a wet weather fall. It will not be running if there has not be recent rainfall. When you can catch it flowing it is a stunner!
NOTE: The blazes for this trail are red.
Horseshoe Mountain Trail
This loop trail is about 2.7 miles long. There is a climb on this trail that is a bit strenuous but doesn’t last long.
After the initial climb the trail will flatten out a bit and you will be able to see the that you are walking on a horseshoe shaped ridge that loops a narrow valley. The trail is a mix of glades and forest before it drops back down to finish the loop.
NOTE: The blazes on this trail are yellow.
Dam Mountain Trail
This is the third and longest of the main trails at Lake Catherine State Park that start from the same location.
This one is about 3.6 miles long and offers a little bit of every kind of scenery. You will see forests, glades, streams, and the lake. The Dam Mountain Trail is listed as rugged and steep.
It will cross Falls Creek Falls above the falls but you can take a spur down to the bottom to get up closer to the falls or to swim for a bit.
Once you get to the top of the mountain there is a nice overlook before you head back down the loop.
NOTE: The blazes on this trail are white.
Slunger Creek Nature Trail
You will pass Slunger Creek Nature Trail on your way into the park. This is a paved, barrier-free trail with benches to sit and enjoy the sound of the creek flowing over rocks.
It is only a half mile flat loop but it is a very pretty place.
Accommodations at Lake Catherine State Park
You have choices of both tent and RV camping, cabins of various sizes, and even a yurt to rent at the park. Camping is available year round. There are bathhouses and a dump station.
Important thing to know before booking
Many of the cabins and campsites are right on the lake which is very nice. However, at most of the campsites and many of the cabins the view across the lake is of a large power plant.
In my opinion this is not at all a deal breaker for staying at the state park but I do think it is important to know.
It could be disconcerting to expect to see mountains and forest across the lake and instead you are viewing an aging power plant.
In my opinion the park and the lake are nice enough that this isn’t an issue but it is not mentioned in any of the official park literature so I do want you to know.
The park has 20 fully equipped cabins. These come in a variety of configurations. Some are duplex cabins and some of the duplexes can be interconnected. There are quadraplexes as well as some rustic cabins that are on the national historic register.
Many of the cabins have fireplaces making this a perfect cold weather escape.
One of the best (my favorite) cabins has a patio overlooking a pretty little cove and private access to the lake from its own fishing pier.
Several of the cabins have their own fishing docks.
There is one yurt available to rent. It is perfect for people who want to camp but don’t have camping gear. The yurt has bunkbeds that sleep 6, lanterns, stove, an ice chest, and table and chairs. The entire thing is on a decked floor.
The yurt is also near the bathhouse.
The park offers both lakeside campsites as well as sites in the secluded forest. Hot showers in a heated bathhouse provide year-round convenience.
All sites are paved and equipped with freeze-proof water connections, a picnic table, and fire ring.
The AAA sites have water, sewer and 30/50 amp electric.
Standard B sites have water and 30 amp electric.
A sanitary dump station is nearby.
I hope that you enjoy your visit to Lake Catherine State Park!
Here is a list of some of our other favorite state parks!
- Pinnacle Mountain State Park
- Mount Nebo State Park
- Petit Jean Mountain State Park
- Mount Magazine State Park
Thanks for stopping by!