If you are looking for a quiet place with big rewards to get away, Cove Lake Recreation Area in western Arkansas is a great campground to consider.
Tucked into the side of the mountain on the northern slope of Mount Magazine, Arkansas’ highest mountain, the Ozark National Forest campground is primitive but the tradeoff is the quiet and beauty that it provides.
Cove Lake Recreation Area is a great place to go if you want a lazy camping trip to lounge by the lake. It is also a great place to go if you prefer to have activities planned all weekend, like kayaking and hiking.
Playing in the water
Cove Lake is about 160 acres and great for fishing, kayaking, and swimming. One thing I really enjoyed about paddling around Cove Lake was how diverse it is.
Some parts of the lake are like a swamp. I love paddling through water lilies and cypress trees. There are lots of nice alcoves in the cypress trees to explore. And I loved paddling around the knees. Because of the wetland areas of the lake my best friend and I saw lots of wildlife.
As I made my way around the lake the cypress knees turned to rocks, and I was out of the swamp and back into the mountains.
Take a hike
Cove Lake also has excellent hiking trails. Cove Lake Loop is about a four mile trail that follows the circumference of the lake.
It’s a fairly easy hike, however I hiked it at the wrong time of year. In lake September the spiders are out in force. And my best friend and I literally hiked the entire trail waving a stick to clear the webs before we walked into them and took on a hitchhiker we didn’t want. There were also some overgrown parts of the trail, and we got into seed ticks and chiggers pretty badly.
The Cove Lake Loop provides excellent views of the lake and Mountain Magazine. A spur trail takes hikers uphill to an overlook that provides fantastic views of the tallest mountain in Arkansas. Hikers have the choice to continue on the spur trail, which intersects back with the Cove Lake Loop a little further down the trail, or double back. I decided to double back so that I could continuing hiking around the entire shoreline.
If you are looking for a more challenging hike, the Cove Lake Trail (not be confused with Cove Lake Loop) takes hikers to the top of Mount Magazine. This trail is a little more than nine miles and a truly beautiful and rewarding hike.
Relax at the campsite
Cove Lake Recreation Area has some marvelous campsites. My best friend and I stayed in a great spot, which sits on a peninsula all to itself. We hung our hammocks and simply lounged at the campsite, soaking up the sun.
If just relaxing is your main priority, Cove Lake has you covered. It is a great campground to simply chill and watch the wildlife.
Cove Lake Recreation Area
Cove Lake Recreation Area is small area, but it is a great place to go to getaway and enjoy nature. With paddling, hiking, relaxing, or even driving up the lodge at Mount Magazine and enjoying a good burger, it really offers it all.
To get there from Paris, Arkansas, take Highway 103/309 south and then turn southwest onto Arkansas 309. Cove Lake Recreation is about nines mile down Highway 309. If coming from Mount Magazine State Park, follow Highway 309 north for about nine miles.