Summer means heading outdoors with family and friends. What better way to relax and have fun all at the same time with a short drive to Lake Catherine State Park in nearby Hot Springs, Arkansas.

It's the perfect getaway to rejuvenate, unwind, and enjoy a little rest and relaxation surrounded by the beauty of the lake, mountains, and wooded forest. Lake Catherine has been my home away from home for several years now and I never get tired of the natural beauty it possesses. Every time I visit it's a new adventure whether I'm relaxing in the cabin or hiking on one of the many trails in the park. From fishing to boating you'll find it all in this historical nature setting. Don't be surprised by the many critters you'll see while staying here like raccoons, squirrels, foxes, geese, coyotes, hawks, bald eagles just to name a few. After all, this is their home we are just visitors. And when you're ready for a swim they even have a swimming beach area.

Mario Garcia

Let me tell you about one of the cabins I stayed in. It was a one-bedroom, kitchenette with a screened-in porch, outdoor grill, and a dock with a great view of the lake. While most lakes in the Hot Springs area are overcrowded, this one was more serene and peaceful. Yes, there were people swimming and camping but everything is significantly far enough apart that you really don't hear much at all. While there were some boats on the lake it was not overpopulated like a lot of lakes around the area. All the cabins were very clean and nice but my personal favorite was the #2 Cabin, it had the nicest view of the lake.

Mario Garcia
M. Garcia, Townsquare Media
M. Garcia, Townsquare Media
M. Garcia, Townsquare Media
M. Garcia, Townsquare Media
M. Garcia, Townsquare Media

Here's a video I shot from the back of the cabin standing on the nearby dock.

At Lake Catherine, you'll find several nearby trails including a new concrete trail that winds through a wooded creek area near the entrance to the park. Guided horseback riding is also available during the summer months.

There are several trails on site that feature different levels of hiking but my favorite trail is the Falls Branch Trail a two-mile hiking adventure through the woods, over creeks, boulders, and all sorts of rugged terrain. Be prepared though. it takes about 2 hours to walk the entire trail leading to the prestigious Falls Branch waterfall. Or, you could take a short cut to the falls through the camping area.

Mario Garcia

With so many folks looking for a shorter vacation destination you can't go wrong here. Most of the summer months stay pretty much booked but on occasion, you may get lucky if someone cancels their reservation. They do have yurts and a large camping area with nearby picnic tables and a playground.

Right now, the park is practicing COVID-19 protocols so make sure to follow all the new policies and guidelines and if you are not sure check with a park ranger. Masks are required to enter the Welcome Center and gift shop.

Directions to Lake Catherine

From Texarkana travel East on I-30 then take Exit 97 in Malvern, then turn north on Highway 171 and travel approximately 12 miles to Lake Catherine State Park.