In a section of the country where outdoor recreation centers around no less than a dozen lakes illustrating maps of the 4 States' corners, Beaver Lake leads the way as one of the most inviting thanks to the freshest and cleanest of waters. Years ago, when living in Kansas City and getting certified in scuba, the 4-hour drive to this northwest Arkansas gem was where scuba schools from across the region brought students for making deep-water dives beyond the classroom swimming pool.
Beaver Lake is 10 miles west of Eureka Springs, off Highway 62 on Highway 187. If coming from town, wait for the second turn-off, unless interested in a 9-mile stretch of scenic loop that runs through the Ozarks. Otherwise, the Beaver Lake Dam is 3 miles off the second turn-off. Even if you've no plans for boating, fishing, or camping, a quick detour is recommended for outdoor fiends.
Before crossing over the dam, take a right at the sign and follow the road that trails along northern section of the lake. This passes along several boat launching places, a beach area, and one of the state park's main campgrounds, which has all the basic facilities for RV's/trailers and tent sites. During the off-season, patrons are on the honor system for dropping the listed fees in a deposit box. However, a more convenient recreational area is just off the dam's north side along a man-made land extension that has picnic areas, restrooms, a large sandy beach, and plenty of parking.
A colorful Ozarks' Autumn had been rather bland this year thanks to little moisture coupled with unusually warm temperatures. Under normal conditions, this hike would definitely provide a kaleidoscope of fall. Once the terrain levels off and trail has passed through the forest, thick knee-high grasses all but hide the path that passes along sheer bluffs hemming an overflow inlet. Even with the floor bone-dry, the canyon-like magnitude was rather impressive and well worth the effort. The trail eventually cuts back through the forest and heads downhill before looping back to the parking area.
by Jose Kevo
December 13, 2005
From journal Town & Country in the Ozarks' Alps