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Hearing something too soft for his owner to sense, the dog freezes in a classic point, its head and back forming a straight line and every fiber focused on the brush ahead. The rider on horseback freezes as well and waits with Mt. Magazine reflecting in the clear still water of the lake behind him. One more moment and the bird explodes out of the brush. It is a perfect day - field trial day at Blue Mountain Lake.
Also known as Blue Mountain Reservoir, Blue Mountain Lake in the River Valley region of Arkansas, has a world-class reputation as a bird dog field trial area. The Perry Mikles Blue Mountain Wildlife Demonstration Area is the best field trial area in the south and one of the best in the country. Set against the backdrop of 2,900-acre Blue Mountain Lake, the area draws competitors from all over to run their pointers, setters, and spaniels through their paces. There are stables and kennels onsite to support the competitors, as well as places to hike and bird watch. The demonstration area is part of 17,019 acres of land and water around Blue Mountain Lake that is managed or owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The USACE created Blue Mountain Reservoir on the Petit Jean River in 1947 with the construction of the Blue Mountain Dam. The dam was started in 1940, but construction was delayed for World War II. Finally finished in 1947, Blue Mountain Lake was created primarily for flood control. Today, however, the lake is gaining in popularity as a fantastic recreation spot. Tucked between two national forests in the shadow of Mt. Magazine, Blue Mountain Lake and Blue Mountain Lake Wildlife Management Area are in some of the most beautiful country in Arkansas.
Blue Mountain Lake Wildlife Management Area is owned by the USACE and licensed long term to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Its 8,200 acres are managed for recreation and hunting, and in-season there is hunting for white-tailed deer, bear and small game. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also stocks Blue Mountain Reservoir. Anglers can try their hands against abundant populations of crappie, bream, catfish, and largemouth and white bass. Access to the lake is through several USACE boat ramps, and visitors will find plenty of water to boat, canoe, kayak and water ski. The USACE also manages several lakeside campgrounds and parks, including one with a swimming beach.
Just south of Blue Mountain Reservoir, the Ouachita National Forest is the South's oldest and largest national forest. Established in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the 1.8 million-acre forest in southeast Oklahoma and central Arkansas has over 700 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and off-road vehicles. It was named Ouachita, which is the French spelling of a Native American word for "good hunting grounds," in 1926 by President Coolidge.
Mt. Magazine stands to the north of Blue Mountain Lake and is visible as a backdrop to the lake. At 2,753 feet, it is the highest mountain between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Mount Magazine State Park is 30 minutes north of Blue Mountain Lake and is surrounded by the Ozark National Forest. Covering over a million acres in northwestern Arkansas, the forest was established on March 6, 1908.
In addition to camping in the national forests and around Blue Mountain Reservoir, there are a variety of accommodations in nearby Booneville. Established in 1878, the town is just 11 miles from the lake and offers access to restaurants and any amenities a visitor might need. There isn't residential development on the shore of the lake, but there is some nearby, including vacation rentals and real estate for sale.
With the Ouachita Mountains on one side and the Ozarks on the other, the clean, clear, fish-filled waters of Blue Mountain Lake are a treasure waiting to be discovered.
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