Falls Branch Trail at Lake Catherine State Park

Lake Catherine State Park

Lake Catherine State Park is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the Ouachita Mountain region of the state. The state park offers a full-service marina where boat rentals are available year round.

We rented a cabin right on the lake for our weekend visit. Besides cabins, the park also has 70 campsites, six primitive tent sites, one Rent-A-Camp, and one Rent-A-Yurt according to the park’s website.

Hiking at lake catherine state park

There are four hiking trails at Lake Catherine State Park. Here is a map of the park’s trails. We decided to hike on the Falls Branch Trail which is two miles in length. This trail is ranked as a top ten hike in Arkansas by AllTrails and is rated as moderate.

Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Falls Branch Trail

Falls Branch Trail

Our girls woke up before the sun, so we started our hike early in the morning before the fog had lifted. Our early start time added a quiet, magical feel to our hike through the forest, and also helped us avoid weekend crowds.

This trail is family-friendly, however the rocks are slippery in places.

Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Falls Branch Trail
Hardwood Forest
Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Falls Branch Trail
Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Falls Branch Trail
Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Falls Branch Trail
Little Canyon Creek
Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Falls Branch Trail
Falls Creek Falls
Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Falls Branch Trail
Lake Catherine

I love to hike in Arkansas in the autumn because we don’t have to worry as much about pesky bugs, snakes, or heat. However, the water levels in the lake, creek and falls were lower. For a different perspective, check out this blog post from arkokhiker from a visit they took in June.

Bald Eagles in arkansas

At the end of the hike, there is a bench that overlooks the lake. We spotted several ducks swimming in the mist. I also spotted a bald eagle, or at least I believe I did – it was difficult to see in the distance. Lake Catherine State Park is hosting Eagle Bonanza Tours in January. Call (501) 844-4176 to sign-up for a free boat tour.

Arkansas State TreE

We were mesmerized by the towering trees at Lake Catherine State Park. Did you know that the Arkansas State Tree is the Loblolly Pine?

Lake Catherine Arkansas State Park. Arkansas

One of the things we appreciated about spending a weekend at Lake Catherine State Park was how relaxing and peaceful the park felt while also being close to restaurants and attractions like Hot Springs National Park. I’ll write more about these attractions in my next post.

Arkansas in the Fall: Lost Valley Trail, Buffalo National River

My original post about hiking Lost Valley Trail in the Buffalo National River area continues to be our most popular post about hikes in Arkansas.

On our first trip to Lost Valley, we went in the middle of summer. A copperhead greeted us on the trail. On our return trip this fall, we spotted a tarantula!

Tarantulas in arkansas

“Texas brown tarantulas, the only species found in the state, live in dry, upland areas like the Arkansas River Valley and the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains” according to Kristen Bartlow, watchable wildlife coordinator with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (article from Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

But don’t let spiders or snakes keep you away.

Natural Bridge

There is a lot to love about this hike including caves, bluffs, and waterfalls.

The trail is 2.4 miles round trip with countless rocks and trees to explore.

On the day of our hike the water was low, so the rocks were less slippery (and the waterfalls were less spectacular).

Eden Falls Cave was closed due to COVID-19 precautions.

But overall, this hike remains one of the best hikes we’ve gone on in Arkansas!

elk in arkansas

Another highlight of this autumn trip was spotting elk near Ponca, right down the road from the Lost Valley trail head.

“Fall is especially a great time to elk watch as the bulls go into mating season form, bugling and battling for herd domination right before your eyes!” according to buffaloriver.com.

ozark cafe

To top off our adventure, we ordered a round of cinnamon rolls to-go from the popular Ozark Cafe in nearby Jasper, Arkansas. This was a delicious decision.

Wonder and Wisdom

“Indeed, before you the whole universe is like a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.

But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance.

For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for you would not fashion what you hate.

How could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?

But you spare all things, because they are yours,

Oh Ruler and Lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!” – Wisdom 11: 22-26.

These pictures were taken in Hobbs State Park last weekend. During these challenging times, I’m seeking perspective in the Word and in the woods.

More about Hobbs State Park:

Arkansas Day Trip: Hobbs State Park and War Eagle Mill

Hiking Pigeon Roost Trail in Arkansas’ Hobbs State Park

Arkansas Hiking: It’s Too Hot, I Hate Ticks, I’m Scared of Snakes…And Other Excuses I Made This Summer

Top 10 Posts in 2019

Natural Falls State Park in Oklahoma

Last weekend the weather was dreary and overcast. We were tempted to stay at home, but I’m glad we decided to venture out to explore a new state park. The trip was even more fun because my sister hiked with us.

dripping springs trail

Natural Falls State Park is located near the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas. The park is only an hour away from our home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The main attraction is a 77-foot waterfall which you can enjoy from observation platforms above and below the falls along the Dripping Springs Trail.

View from above waterfall
Waterfall view from below falls
Bridge crosses over the waterfall
Autumn color in the forest.
There is a small fishing area and a picnic table along the trail.
The girls love playing with ‘gross’ things. Photo credit – my amazing sister.

The one mile trail is rated as moderate on AllTrails.com. There are a couple steep sections. There is also a short, narrow section that was a little slick because of the weather, so we held onto the girls’ hands to make sure they wouldn’t slip.

Uphill section of the trail

5 things to know before you go

  1. There is a parking fee.
  2. You can rent a yurt if you want to spend the night.
  3. Amenities include a playground and a restroom.
  4. Here is a park map.
  5. You can learn more about the park at travelok.com.