Lake Catherine State Park#5 in Best Things To Do in Hot Springs, AR
Comprising roughly 3 1/2-square-miles of the Ouachita Mountain's forest and coastal areas, Lake Catherine State Park attracts visitors with its collection of beautiful trails. The 2-mile Falls Branch Trail, which leads to a scenic waterfall, draws the majority of the park's hikers. Along with the trails, the park is also a popular fishing spot. Anglers will enjoy the park's fishing pier, as well as the option to rent boats from the on-site marina. American history enthusiasts appreciate the historic stone and wood buildings, which were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Past travelers enjoyed taking on the assortment of hiking trails. Plus, they said the park's swimming beach provided the perfect opportunity to cool off after a long day of walking or boating. The only downside: Many visitors felt that the power plant on the opposite side of the lake ruined the area's otherwise picturesque setting, especially when its lights competed with the moon and stars for overnight campers.
To reach the Lake Catherine State Park, travelers must trek just more than 12 miles southeast of downtown Hot Springs, and the park is not accessible through public transit. Accommodations at Lake Catherine State Park include 70 campsites and 20 cabins, plus a variety of other sites. Their prices are equally eclectic, ranging from roughly $13 to $115 per night, but access to the park is free. Find more information on Lake Catherine State Park's website.
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#1 Hot Springs National Park
Given that Hot Springs National Park shares a name with the nearby town, it should come as no surprise that the 5,500-acre park serves as the main attraction in Hot Springs. The park's thermal waters are its primary draw, and visitors can still soak in the historical establishments lining Bathhouse Row, including the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and the Buckstaff Bathhouse. Additionally, numerous trails weave throughout the park. A majority of the trails are concentrated between the Hot Springs and North Mountain trails as well as the West Mountain Trails. Both these areas offer short, interconnected trails, while the approximately 10-mile Sunset Trail provides a more challenging trek for experienced hikers.
Past visitors suggested taking on the 2.6-mile Sugarloaf Mountain segment of the Sunset Trail, which includes a short spur trail to the Balanced Rock that rewards hikers with one of the most stunning views in Arkansas. They also appreciate the park's attractions in the middle of town, like Bathhouse Row and the Grand Promenade.
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