Lake Fort Smith State Park: Plan a Camping, Hiking, and Kayaking Trip


This guide provides more information about camping, hiking, and kayaking at Lake Fort Smith State Park in Arkansas.

Nestled in the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas, Lake Fort Smith State Park is one of our favorite places to camp, hike, and kayak.

We’re sharing fun things to do to help you plan your next road trip to this beautiful park.

It is a great place to get outside on the weekend and enjoy one of many incredible state parks in Arkansas.

Best Things To Do at Lake Fort Smith State Park

Located near Fort Smith, AR, Lake Fort Smith State Park is a great place for a weekend road trip in the Ozarks. It is about two hours from Tulsa, and it’s easy for us to drive there with our Aliner for a camping trip.

There is a lovely campground under the trees, miles of trails, and a crystal-clear lake to enjoy. You’ll love taking in the breathtaking views of the Boston Mountains and driving the scenic byways.


Lake Fort Smith State Park has a nice campground. There are 20 sites with full hookups and 10 class B campsites with water and electricity. The sites are paved and RV-friendly. They have fire rings and grills. Many campsites are shaded and have an area to set a tent if you’re tent camping.

Two bathhouses have flushing toilets, running water, and hot showers. The bathhouses also have heat (which is excellent for year-round camping). There is a dump station.

Make reservations online to camp with Arkansas State Parks.

Our campsite at Lake Fort Smith.


There are miles of trails to explore. Some of the most popular include the Warren Hollow Trail, Boston Mountain Trail, and Ozark Highlands Trail.

We enjoyed hiking the Warren Hollow Trail to the wooded bridge and a smaller section of the Ozark Highlands Trail to the waterfall. The waterfall runs seasonally, so we didn’t see it running when we camped in November.

Hiking across the bridge on the Warren Hollow Trail.


Though swimming is not allowed at Lake Fort Smith because it is a public drinking water supply, boats are allowed.

You can bring your kayak or canoe or rent kayaks at the marina seasonally.

We enjoyed paddling around the lake to the scenic bluffs and rock outcroppings. The water was crystal clear.

Me paddling on Lake Fort Smith.

More Things To Do

In addition to camping, hiking, and kayaking, there are other activities at the park you can do, such as fishing, backpacking, and picnicking.

Lake Fort Smith during the fall.


We saw quite a few small, motorized fishing boats with folks enjoying their weekend fishing trip. There were also people fishing from the shore. There is a small marina and a nice boat ramp.


The Ozark Highlands Trail is a popular backpacking trail that goes all the way to Buffalo National River. Lake Fort Smith State Park is the western terminus for the Ozark Highlands Trail, covering 165 miles through the Ozarks Mountains.

We saw a few people starting backpacking trips while we were there. This trail goes through some of the wildest backcountry in middle America.

Do some research before planning a backpacking adventure through the Ozarks – cell phone reception is minimal.

Hiking at Lake Fort Smith State Park.

Mountain Biking

Many of the trails are open to mountain bikes. If you like mountain biking, check out the Boston Mountain Trail.


Swimming is not allowed at the lake; however, a swimming pool is open seasonally next to the visitor center.

See More of Lake Fort Smith State Park

Check out our video on YouTube.

Where Else To Stay

The park has ten cabins available if you want to avoid camping. Two group lodges can be rented out – the Wild Turkey Lodge and Kingfisher Lodge.

Make reservations online to book your stay.

Best Time To Visit

The park is open year-round; however, March through November is the best time to visit.

Spring: In the spring, you will enjoy cooler temperatures and the foliage greening up—perfect weather for camping and hiking.

Summer: Summers are a nice time for kayaking and paddling on the lake.

Fall: This is an excellent time for hiking, camping, paddling, and seeing the beautiful fall foliage.

Pablo and Bear paddling.

More Info

Dogs are allowed at the campground and on the trails.

We did not have cell phone reception at the campground – we were at site #4.

Our Experience

We camped at Lake Fort Smith State Park in early November and had a great time.

We brought our kayaks, paddled the lake, and hiked a few of the trails. The fall foliage was incredible.

We also enjoyed chatting with all the other campers – everyone was so friendly.

Since we live in Tulsa, the park is only two hours away, making it an awesome weekend road trip from Tulsa.

The views of the Boston Mountains during the fall are stunning, and we highly recommend a road trip to the area during the autumn months. We hope you have the best time exploring.

Have fun out there.

Ashlee & Pablo

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More Arkansas Adventures

We love getting outside in Arkansas! You might also enjoy exploring these fantastic state parks:

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.


  1. Burt Randall on November 21, 2022 at 11:17 pm

    It looks like you guys had a great time!

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 22, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Hi Uncle Burt! We did. Thanks for reading and being our #1 fan! 🙂