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

hiking-lake-fort-smith-state-park

Nestled in the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas, Lake Fort Smith State Park is the perfect place to go camping, hiking, and kayaking. We’re sharing fun things to do to help you plan your next road trip to this beautiful park in The Natural State. 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 beautiful place for a weekend road trip in the Ozarks. 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.

Camping

Lake Fort Smith State Park has a great campground. There are 20 sites with full hookups. There are also 10 class B campsites with water and electricity. The sites are paved and RV-friendly. The campsites 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 for camping with Arkansas State Parks.

lake-fort-smith-campground

Hiking

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 on the November trip.

lake-fort-smith-hiking-trail

**Check out our article on what to wear hiking (for everyone)!

Kayaking

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.

kayaking-at-lake-fort-smith

**If you love paddling, check out our article on the best places to kayak in Oklahoma next door!

More Things to Do

Along with camping, hiking, and kayaking, there are other things to do at the park, such as fishing, backpacking, picnicking and more!

lake-fort-smith-in-the-fall

Fishing

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.

Backpacking

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.

ozark-highlands-trail

Mountain Biking

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

Swimming

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.

During the spring, visitors will enjoy coolers temperatures and the foliage greening up – perfect weather for camping and hiking. Summers are a great time for kayaking and paddling on the lake. And fall is an excellent time for hiking, camping, paddling, and enjoying the beautiful fall foliage.

kayaking-at-lake-fort-smith-state-park

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.

Final Thoughts

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, Lake Fort Smith State 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.

Thanks for reading!

Ashlee & Pablo


Get More Arkansas Adventures!

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

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top photo: girl hiking along the Ozark Highlands Trail during the fall; bottom photo: man and dog kayaking at Lake Fort Smith State Park

Please remember to Leave No Trace while exploring the outdoors!

Visit us on Instagram! We’d love to see you along the way. Check out our reel about exploring Lake Fort Smith State Park!

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer and founder of The Happiness Function. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and is passionate about the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

2 Comments

  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! 🙂

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