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Lake Ouachita is completely surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest with limited shoreline development. Ouachita National Forest has over 700 miles of trails and facilities for hiking, mountain biking and ATVs. Lake Ouachita is the largest lake entirely within the state of Arkansas, with more than 200 islands (think of your own private camping spot!) and 40,000+ acres of boating and water recreation with 975 miles of shoreline. It is extremely well suited for recreational use with a number of designated recreation areas that include camping, fishing docks, boat slips and swim areas. Several marinas call Lake Ouachita home and rent a variety of watercraft, including houseboats. For those not inclined toward camping, several resorts with full boating facilities exist along the shore. Many hiking and mountain biking trails surround the lake in the Ouachita National Forest
Lake Ouachita was authorized by the Flood Control Act of December 22, 1944 primarily for flood control and power generation. Lake Ouachita is the first of three reservoirs on the Ouachita River, near Hot Springs, created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine are the downstream reservoirs.) The gates of Blakely Mountain Dam were closed in 1953, creating Lake Ouachita. Ouachita is the French spelling of an Indian word WASHITA which means 'good hunting grounds...' and we have to add 'good fishing waters'.
Lake Ouachita is an angler's paradise with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, bream, crappie, catfish and walleye as fishing attractions. However, the trophy striped bass are the biggest draw for most anglers and have given Lake Ouachita the title of the 'Striped Bass Capital of the World'.
Unusual features on and around Lake Ouachita include one of the largest crystal veins in the world, rare jellyfish (non-stinging variety) and sponges. The Geo Float Trail, the first water-based interpretive trail included in the National Trails System, is a project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Arkansas Geological Commission, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The 16-mile trail guides boaters around Lake Ouachita showing the many unique geological formations. Boaters should try this one!
For the geocaching aficionado, there are over 50 caches in a ten mile area (many more outside this) to find and log. At least one of these is on an island for boaters. Get your GPS unit out and find a few.
The mountain biker will also have challenges on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, the Womble Trail and the Little Blakely Trail. The Vista Trail is planned to extend 35-40 miles along the Lake Ouachita's shore.
Scuba divers from around the world revel in the underwater experiences and the special spear fishing season in Lake Ouachita. The location is known as a scuba training area, attracting instructors and students from neighboring states to learn to dive in its clear waters. A popular sport is spearfishing, allowed by Arkansas (one of the few states doing so) for fresh water fish. Underwater visibility in Lake Ouachita can range from 6 to 30 feet, depending on weather.
Lake Ouachita has something for everyone - boating, fishing, hiking, biking, diving, in-season hunting and just the pure outdoor enjoyment of nature make this a 'must do' in Arkansas.
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