The outdoor scene in Hot Springs

Kayaking at Lake Ouachita
Kayaking at Lake Ouachita

If you are into the outdoors, you are in luck! Hot Springs is an outdoor haven with plenty of lakes and trails to get your outdoor fix in. 

Hit the water

Fishing, kayaking, and boating are very popular in Hot Springs. The region is home to five famous lakes called the Diamond Lakes where you can take on these water activities and more.

Lake Ouachita and Lake Hamilton are in Hot Springs, Lake Catherine is near Malvern, Lake Greeson is between Glenwood and Murfreesboro, and DeGray Lake is near Arkadelphia.

Lake Ouachita is the largest lake in the state and is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest. The lake has more than 100 uninhabited islands for camping and on the eastern shore is Lake Ouachita State Park. Lake Catherine is situated on the lakeshore of Lake Catherine State Park. Lake Hamilton is one of the state’s most popular recreational and residential lakes and home to the lakeshore botanical garden Garvan Woodland Gardens, which can be accessed via boat or land. Anglers head to Lake Greeson for the abundant fishing and around the lake shore is Daisy State Park. DeGray Lake is home to the state’s only resort state park: DeGray Lake Resort State Park.

Hit the trail

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail

Hot Springs National Park is home to 5,500 acres to explore including over 25 miles of hiking trails that lead to scenic vistas and to destinations like the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, which offers an aerial view of downtown Hot Springs and the surrounding Ouachita National Forest. The ten-mile Sunset Trail offers a longer route to explore. 

Nearby state parks are also home to hiking terrain. Lake Catherine State Park is home to four trails, the most popular being a two-mile loop trail called Falls Branch Trail. It is home to a seasonal waterfall and also a neat suspension bridge you can walk over.

The popular four-mile Caddo Bend Trail is a trail located on a peninsula in Lake Ouachita State Park. The route stands out as it is a loop trail and circles an entire peninsula back to its beginning. The trailhead is located a short distance from the park visitor center. Expansive views of Lake Ouachita and an observation deck overlooking the lake are some of the highlights along the rolling terrain of this route. The observation deck, which is located at around 1.5 miles into the trail, is home to the Point 50 Overlook where one can get a nice view of the lake.

The newest trail system in Hot Springs is the Northwoods Trails. These trails are being designed and built by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and Phase 1 is now open of a planned 44 miles. The stacked loop trail system has trails for all skill levels and the routes are marked with color-coded signs indicating whether a trail is Green (beginner), Blue (intermediate), or Black (advanced).

Hot Springs has been rated a bronze-level Ride Center by IMBA, a designation which recognizes mountain biking communities that offer standout experiences for every style of rider, both on and off the bike. The region is also home to three IMBA Epic Rides (The Womble Trail, the Ouachita National Recreational Trail, and the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail) and the nearby Iron Mountain Trail System in Arkadelphia.

Be sure to reward yourself after your outdoor adventures with a cold brew at one of the many craft breweries in town, too!