Of the many gorgeous lakes to visit in the south none can match the beauty of Lake Catherine. The lake is listed as one of the five popular Diamond Lakes in west-central Arkansas. With its clear blue waters tucked away in the heart of the Ouachita National Forest it is truly a spectacular lake to visit. The lake is located less than a five-minute drive from the resort town Hot Springs.
In 1924 the Arkansas Power and Light Co. formed the lake when they created the Remmel Dam to generate power for Hot Springs and other communities in the area. This was the state’s first major hydroelectric facility. A smaller lake stretching 11 miles and covering 1,940 acres, the land was donated by Harvey Couch, the founder of Arkansas Power and Light.
Do you like fishing? Everyone grab a fishing pole because Lake Catherine offers a variety of fish such as largemouth, spotted and striped bass, crappie, bream, walleye and catfish. The Largemouth bass make the lake very popular with all the anglers. If you’re lucky you may catch a big one and have it mounted at home in your living room. The lake also has a rainbow trout fishery in the trail water just below the Remmel Dam. The fishery is stocked yearly by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
LAKE CATHERINE STATE PARK
Lake Catherine State Park offers some great rustic facilities to stay in on your visit to the area. The park has 20 cabins that feature fully equipped kitchens and most have wood burning fire places, which can make for a romantic evening. The park has sixty-eight campsites, each offering incredible lake and forest views and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism lists these sites as AAA.
Each campsite has water, sewer and electric hookups which have electric hookups for 20, 30, and 50 amp connections. All sites also include a picnic table, grill, lantern hanger and tent pad. Recent renovations have been new roads, utility distribution systems, parking pads and utilities at each campsite. Most of the parking pads are now 60 feet long or longer. A Rent-A-Camp is available for those who don’t own their own camping equipment, it provides all the things you will need for a great outdoor camping adventure. The park features a visitor’s center, horseback riding, a bathhouse, picnic areas, pavilions, playgrounds the kids will enjoy, a laundry and a swimming area with a sand beach.
The lake also has a marina where you can rent boats, party barges, canoes and pedal boats. Bait and tackle can also be purchased for those wishing to take part in the excellent fishing at their stocked lake. In addition to their camping, fishing and boating, the park has more than ten miles of hiking trails where hikers might glimpse white tail deer and the woodlands surrounding Lake Catherine are home to many kinds of other wildlife, such as armadillo, possum, raccoon and several different species of water fowl.
The hiking trails that travel along the waterfalls are favorites among many visitors. In the summer months or by an advanced request, guided hikes, boat tours and horseback trail rides are available. The park employees are very helpful and friendly with helping guests decide which of the abundant programs offered at the park would appeal. Other programs the park offer are nature talks and demonstrations. The park has an outdoor amphitheater where visitors may enjoy slide shows and movies. Special programs held on weekends seasonally include “Wildflower Walks,” “Fall Foliage Tours,” and “Eagle Awareness Activities.” You will lose yourself in all the natural beauty the park has to offer.
Lake Catherine has some great swimming areas and is an excellent choice for most boating activities. Hot Springs offers many places one can rent water skis, jet skis and anything else needed to create memories on the lake; you can even rent a boat, if desired.
Just a few miles north of the lake is the resort community Diamondhead, where available for purchase are lots abutting either the lake or the park. Community residents don’t complain about their neighbors as they consist of deer and fox, dogwoods and wildflowers, and the Ouachita Forest. After admiring the majestic homes in this lakeside community the urge to relocate is strong. Golfers will be happy to know that Diamondhead offers an 18-hole golf course with snack bar that all visitors are welcome to enjoy. The community also offers a restaurant and swimming pool.
AREA SIGHT SEEING
Less than a ten minute drive from the Lake Catherine is Garven Woodland Gardens. The gardens were developed in 1956 by Verna Cook Garven, the daughter of Arther B. Cook of Malvern. In 1985, the first 40 acres of Verna Garven’s property was bequeathed to the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Arkansas. From that time until her death in 1993, she maintained personal control of the garden, working with the department to catalog each plant species and its location.
The gardens are now an expansive 210 acres with beautiful flowering plants, classic Ouachita landscape, with more than four miles of shoreline along Lake Hamilton, another of the fantastic lakes to visit in the area. The gardens capture the unique Ouachita settings in a remarkable way. Photographers flock to the area from across the country to take advantage of awe-inspiring photo opportunities. Monthly art exhibits can also be viewed in the center’s Magnolia Room.
The Gardens feature a welcome center, gift shop, waterfalls, unique bridges an Asian Garden, and much more. The site is also home to
the Anthony Chapel, an incredible structure featuring floor-to-ceiling glass which makes for some picturesque views of the local flowers and woodlands. The Chapel is a popular destination for many future newlyweds.
The gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. To 6 p.m. February through mid-November and 12 p.m. To 9 p.m. Mid-November through December. The Gardens are closed on thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and the month of January. Admission fees are $9.00 for adults (13 and up), $8.00 for seniors (55 and up), $4.00 for children 6-12. Members and children under 5 get in free. Special rates are available to groups and schools. Special rates apply at 5 p.m. Mid-November through December when the lights on the landscape display begins. Golf cart rides are $7.00 and parking is free.
For more information on the Gardens please call 501-262-9300 or toll-free 1-800-366-4664
Lake Catherine may be a smaller lake, but it more than makes up for it with its state park and many local sites to visit. It is a place you will come back to time and time again.
For further information on park hours, and fees contact:
Lake Catherine State Park
1200 Catherine Park Rd.
Hot Springs, AR 71913-8605
Telephone: (501) 844-4176
For Reservations only 1-800-264-2422
For tourism information about the state of Arkansas, please visit their website.