Nestled in the natural beauty of the Ouachita Mountains on 1,940-acre Lake Catherine, one of the five popular Diamond Lakes in west central Arkansas, Lake Catherine State Park features many CCC/Rustic-style facilities constructed of native stone and wood by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.
Situated along the lakeshore, the park's 20 cabins feature fully-equipped kitchens. All but one feature one-bedroom, and most have wood-burning fireplaces.
The park's two-bedroom cabin, the Polly Crews Cabin, was designed to be fully-accessible to serve the needs of visitors with disabilities. The cabin includes its own private and fully-accessible fishing pier and boat dock. This 1,160-square-foot cabin that opened in 2004 features a design inspired by the architectural designs of the park's five, CCC/Rustic-style cabins which were constructed in the 1930s. An accessible parking space and path provide barrier-free access to the cabin. The bathroom offers both a spa tub and a roll-in shower. Just outside the cabin's screened porch, a large flagstone patio also offers views of the lake. The patio includes a picnic table and pedestal grill.
On a quiet cove in a separate area of the park are two rustic, studio duplex cabins that include kitchenettes. These accomodations were created when the park's historic CCC Fisherman's Barrack dating from the 1930s was restored. The barrack's screened porch rests on treated pine pilings over the lake at the mouth of Slunger Creek. Cast your fishing line right from the porch and enjoy the wildlife watching in this private, peaceful setting where Slunger Creek meets Lake Catherine. For details on these studio, duplex cabins, visit: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/news/for-media/display.aspx?id=1566.
The park offers 70 campsites (47 Class AAA and 23 Class B), six Primitive Tent Sites, one Rent-A-Camp, and one Rent-A-Yurt. Sixty-eight campsites and two Rent-A-Camp sites offer lake views and woodland views. At the Class AAA sites, most of the parking pads are 60 feet long or longer. Each one is a pull-in or back-in campsite featuring water and sewer hookups, plus combined 20 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp connections. There is a a picnic table, grill, lantern hanger and tent pad at each site. Additional vehicle parking is scattered throughout the camping areas. Barrier-free campsites are located adjacent to the bathhouses. Both bathhouses offer barrier-free access for visitors with disabilities.
The park's marina, open in summer only, sells bait and fuel. Rental boats are available throughout the year. The park features a launch ramp, standard pavilion, picnic sites, and playgrounds. Gifts, groceries, snacks and ice are available for sale daily at the visitor center that overlooks the swimming area and nature center (open during the summer only).
Hikers can choose from four trails in the park. Falls Branch Trail, Horseshoe Mountain Trail, and Dam Mountain Trail range from two-and-one- half miles to four miles in length. All three of these trails pass Falls Creek Falls, the park's picturesque waterfall. These mountain trails are representative of the terrain found here in the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas's southernmost mountain range. From the Dam Mountain Trail, the longest trail in the park, you can look down on Remmel Dam, the dam built on the Ouachita River in 1924 that creates 1,940-acre Lake Catherine. The trailhead for these three trails is near the campgrounds. The newest park trail, the five-eights-of-a-mile Slunger Creek Nature Trail, is at the opposite end of the park and stretches alongside the bank of Slunger Creek near the entrance to the park. This concrete, barrie-free trail includes benches where you can relax and enjoy the sounds of the water flowing over rocks along this Ouachita Mountain creek.
Park interpreters offer guided hikes, lake tours, and nature programs during summer, or by advance request in other seasons. Guided horseback trail rides are available during the summer months.
Just up Catherine Park Road (Ark. 171) from Lake Catherine State Park is Diamondhead, a private resort community also located on Lake Catherine. Diamondhead offers a golf course and restaurant that park visitors are welcome to enjoy. Diamondhead's golf course is an 18-hole, par 72 championship course with pro shop, restaurant, cart rentals, and a driving range.
Lake Catherine State Park is near both Hot Springs and Malvern. To reach the park from I-30, take Exit #97 near Malvern and go 12 miles north on Ark. 171 to the park.
For more information about Arkansas State Parks historic, heritage and cultural parks, go to: http://www.historystateparks.com/