Lake Charles State Park, Arkansas. Camping trip to Lake Charles State Park. Hiking, swimming and things to do in the area.
Lake Charles State Park is located in Powhatan, Arkansas. This small little state park offers 4 hiking trails with the longest one being only a mile and a half. Although the trails are a little smaller, the biggest attraction is the Lake.
Beautiful Lake Charles is 645 acres and filled with catfish, bass, crappie and more. However, if fishing isn’t your thing, maybe camping and kayaking are.
Because when you wake up to a waterfront view, you can’t help but have an amazing day.
Follow me on…
Our camping trip started on a Tuesday afternoon with a very flat and straight drive on the highway. Passing fields and crops with the occasional agricultural aircraft flying overhead.
Pulling into the state park we found that there isn’t a designated spot to check in if you’re hauling a camper. We pulled over to the side as best we could and checked in quickly.
Driving through the campsite we were pleasantly surprised. No longer was this a flat and treeless terrain. We were now surrounded by beautiful tall trees and green shrubs lining the calm lake.
LAKE CHARLES STATE PARK – CAMPGROUND
For reservations visit Lake Charles State Park and click Book Now.
Campground Sites 62-85
- bathhouse within walking distance
- fire ring
- picnic table
- lantern hanger
Driving down the road, and reading the park sign, we stayed in campground area C. Although the park map calls this area E. Here they hold campsites 62-85. This area offers 24 AAA sites with full hookups. 50amp electric, water and sewer hookup.
For this trip we stayed in site 77 and arguably the best campsite in the campground. From the fire pit there is an unobstructed view of the lake and the site has easy access to put in a kayak or two.
The loop is easy to navigate and most of the campsites are fairly level with the exception of campsite 84. Campsite 84 is a pull through site and even though that may sound tempting, there is a slope up that may make is difficult to unhook a camper.
Behind campsite 68 there is a large grassy area. Perfect for the kids to play. It also overlooks the lake and is an easy back in for anyone with a travel trailer.
Campground sites 45-60
- bathhouse located in the first and last campsites loop
- fire ring
- picnic table
- lanter hanger
When booking with a travel trailer for campsites 45-60 you’re going to need to pay attention to the length. Several of the sites in this loop are smaller and don’t accommodate for a travel trailer over 24 feet.
You also have access to the Cedar Trail that runs along the lakes shore. Perfect for a morning stroll with a cup of coffee.
Campground Sites 26-43
- bathhouse located within walking distance
- fire ring
- lantern hanger
- picnic table
Campers in loop A also have easy access to the Cedar Trial. This area is well shaded but offers a more wooded environment than lake front views. That being said, there is a yurt for rent in this loop that has a beautiful lake front view, pergola area with grill and has it’s own boat dock! So if you came to fish renting this yurt has added bonuses.
THINGS TO DO
Lake Charles State Park offers 4 hiking trails with all of them being less than two miles long. With the heat and humidity in the summer, that might come as a welcome relief.
- White Oak Trail- 1.5 mile loop
- Butterflies and Blooms Trail – 1.3 miles
- Cedar Trail – 1.25 miles
- Mockernut Trail – 1 mile loop
The Cedar Trail was by far our favorite trail to walk. It has easy access for all camping areas and follows the lake shoreline with wooden bridges and boardwalks.
Lake Charles State Park does offer a swim beach. There is no lifeguard on duty, swim at your own risk.
It is nice that they have this available however, since this is a big fishing lake you do need to be careful of potential fish hooks in the water. Within the first 15 minutes of swimming our daughter found a good size hook in the water that I was grateful she didn’t step on.
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If you happened to have forgotten your water shoes the visitors center sells both adult and children’s water shoes, all for a decent price.
It’s no secret that this is a big fishing lake. Bring your boat and enjoy fishing this 645 acre lake. During our visit we could hear (and see!) the fish jumping out of the water even though the afternoon! There are several boat ramps and fishing piers in this state park. And if you happen to be camping in site 78, there is a nice bench right on the point to fish from.
Whether you’re new to kayaking or an avid kayaker, this little big lake is perfect to explore. There are a couple of little coves that are great for the family to get out and experience kayaking on the water.
Don’t own a kayak? You can rent one at the visitors center. They have both single and tandem available to rent for a few hours or the entire day.
Visit the Visitors Center
This visitors center might look small on the outside but if you’ve forgotten a thing or two, this place probably has is. Toiletries, hammocks, swim floats, fishing bait and rods.
If you’re camping here take a stroll up the Cedar Trail all the way to the visitors center and pick yourself (or the kids) some ice cream out of their freezer.
IN THE AREA
The surrounding area of Lake Charles State Park can be a bit sleepy but there are a few things you can go see and explore.
Powhatan Historic State Park
Chances are that you passed Powhatan Historic State Park on your way to Lake Charles State Park. This courthouse built in 1888 sits on top of a hill and overlooks the Black River.
Inside you’ll find exhibits, the courtroom and a gift shop. Also on the site you can view the old jail, log house, school and commercial building. As you’re walking around the building, be sure to look at the details on the door knobs and hinges.
You can find the visitors parking lot located behind the building.
Davidsonville Historic State Park
Also nearby is Davidsonville Historic State Park. This little state park has a campground, two playgrounds and a small lake. But the real reason for visiting is for the ghost structures.
Back in 1815-1830 Davidsonville was a thriving town. They even held Arkansas’ first post office. The town hit some hard times and everyone left. I’ll let you read the rest of that history as you walk around these metal structures that represent what once was the town of Davidsonville.
You’ll probably have more questions than answers before you leave, so be sure to stop by the visitors center for a more in depth view on what happened to this small town.
Over in Walnut Ridge you’ll find Beatles Park and the four Beatles as life size silhouettes with an Abbey Road backdrop. This entire area is dedicated to them and you’ll find memorabilia, murals and even a yellow submarine.
Since you’re already in the area, stop by the Guitar Walk. This little park is a giant 115 foot long guitar complete with metal strings. This path is lined with audio narration by some of the greats such as Elvis, Johnny Cash and more.
I would recommend driving to this park even though the Guitar Walk and Beatles Park are close in proximity. There is a busy road you’ll need to cross to get to it, so driving might be best.
Ma and Pa’s Flea Market
Right down the road from the Guitar Walk is Ma and Pa’s Flea Market. Maybe I’m a sucker for a good flea market but this one ranks high on my favorites. Ma and Pa’s Flea Market is open seven days a week and full of little gems waiting to be found.
It’s a great spot to get out of the heat and find something a little special, and one of a kind, to take home with you.
Of course there are many great places in the area just waiting for you to explore. These are just a few of them.
What you need to know
Cell service- We have AT&T and had no problem with cell service. Calls, text and the internet worked great for us. Although that may depend on your provider.
Camping at Lake Charles State Park is a great place to get away and relax. The park is well kept and the campground loops are perfect for kids to ride their bikes. The little trails are beautiful for a morning stroll and the easy access to the water make this a fisherman’s and kayakers dream.
However, even with a campfire you will get chased inside from all the bugs. I know that sounds silly but once the sun goes down these little critters are ruthless. We learned the hard way and rushed inside the camper. It was a bug massacre.
Talking to a park ranger at the Powhatan Historic State Park he mentioned that they are participially bad in this area due to the rice and other crops.
So that’s your fair warning. Bring a fan to keep the flies off of you and if you can invest in some sort of canopy with screen, you won’t be sorry.
We’ll see you on our next trip. ~Sara
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