[Picture]: Recreational Activities

So Much To Do & See
The Ouachita National Forest is located primarily in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Outstanding mountain views coupled with picturesque streams, rivers, and lakes provide a unique and highly valued setting for outdoor recreation.  The forest offers high quality nature related-sightseeing, scenic driving, hunting, fishing, and dispersed camping.  Learn about the areas rich history at wayside exhibits along a scenic drive or experience unique botanical, mineral, and prehistoric resources featured in information and educational programs.  An extensive trail system provides for all types of uses including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicles (OHV) riding.  A variety of services can be found at developed campgrounds ranging from rustic tent pads to full-service RV hookups.  Enjoy exceptional water-based recreation opportunities including fishing, non-motorized boating, and passive enjoyment of streams, rivers and lakes.

To view a recreation area on the Recreation Map below:

  • Click on the district office Forest Service emblem in your area of interest, or
  • Click on "Find An Area" at right.

When viewing an area, use "+" and "-" to size map, and "Map" drop-down menu to choose style of map.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

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Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Albert Pike Closed to Visitor Albert Pike is closed seasonally (schedule to reopen 4/1/16 day use only). Downed trees have made the Winding Stairs trailhead inaccessible and dangerous for hikers and will remain closed. (updated 8/4/15). An update on the status of Winding Stairs will be posted as new information becomes available. Call the Womble Office for additional information 870-867-2101
Bard Springs Open to Visitor Open year-round
Big Brushy Open to Visitor Day Use Only
Billy Creek Recreation Area Open to Visitor Open year-round
Camp Clearfork Open to Visitor Open for the season. Call the Womble Office at (870) 867-2101 for fee and reservation information.
Cedar Lake Recreation Area Open to Visitor 10/23/15 Shady Lane Loop temporarily closed due to potential flooding
Charlton Recreation Area Closed to Visitor Parts of Charlton are closed for the season. Loops B and C will be open 4/21/16 - 12/1/16, Loop A, including Loop A group area, open 5/15/16 - 9/15/16, Day use area open 5/1/16 - 11/1/16
Crystal Open to Visitor Open year-round. Swim area open seasonally
Fourche Mountain Open to Visitor Open year-round
Jack Creek Open to Visitor Reopened for the season 3/14/16
Knoppers Ford Open to Visitor Open year-round. Free day use area; fee charged for overnight camping.
Lake Sylvia Open to Visitor Open!
Little Pines Open to Visitor Open year-round
Shady Lake Open to Visitor
South Fourche Open to Visitor Open year-round
Winding Stair Campground Open to Visitor Opened for the season 3/1/16 -Backpackers camp only open year-round -
Wolf Pen Gap Open to Visitor 5/2/16 - Wolf Pen Gap has reopened
Wolf Pen Gap will be closing on Nov 1 except for Trail 1 from the North trailhead to the South trailhead which stays open year around. Two holiday periods will open the trail system at Wolf Pen Gap to OHV use: Nov 23 through Nov 28, and Dec 25 through Jan 2. The only closure during that time would be if there is a considerable amount of rain or snow. Trail 826 remains closed due to a damaged culvert.  Please contact the ranger district or the Press Release for additional information


Charlton Recreation Area

Loop A at Charlton Recreation Area will open April 1, 2014 for tent camping. The campground, located 20 miles west of Hot Springs, was closed in early 2011 when heavy rains and flooding caused major damage in the area.

The day use area and Loops B and C will open for RV/Tent camping and Day-use Thursday, April 10, 2014. Picnic, swim, hike, and fish along picturesque Walnut Creek, a cold, spring-fed mountain stream in the heart of the Ouachita National Forest. This historic recreation area features a captivating native stone dam that forms the swimming area and rustic bathhouse built by the Civilian Conservation Corps federal work program in 1935.

Printer-friendly information about Charlton Recreation Area.

Shady Lake

Scenic 25-acre lake in remote mountain setting.The Civilian Conservation Corps developed the Shady Lake Recreation Area in 1937. The Shady Lake Trail traverses Saline Creek and passes the historic Shady Lake Dam. It continues along the eastern edge of the campground. The trail is ideal for day hiking. Mountain bikers may also use the trail.

Individual campsite temporary closings:

For your safety, the following campsites are closed while being evaluated for risk of flooding:

B12, B14, B18, B20,

B21, C1, C2, C3,

C4, D4, D6, D8, D10