[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.

Current recreation fees and schedule

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 Open to Visitor Albert Pike is currently open for day-use only from 8 am until 8pm.  Please 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 Open!
Charlton Recreation Area Open to Visitor Open
Crystal Closed to Visitor Currently closed due to repairs. Swim area open seasonally
Fourche Mountain Closed to Visitor Currently closed
Jack Creek Open to Visitor Open! No fees for camping or day use. Off-highway vehicles are allowed in camp area only, not in the day-use area. 
Knoppers Ford Open to Visitor Open year-round. Free day use area. No overnight camping. Off-highway vehicles allowed in day use area.
Lake Sylvia Closed to Visitor Currently closed for the season.
Little Pines Open to Visitor Open year-round
Shady Lake Open to Visitor Open!
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 Closed to Visitor Wolf Pen Gap is currently closed 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: from three days prior to Thanksgiving through two days after Thanksgiving, and from Dec. 25 through Jan. 2. The only closure during that time would be if there is a considerable amount of rain or snow. 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