Even though I have made dozens of trips to Eureka Springs over the years, it wasn't until last week, that I took the short "detour" off Highway 62 to check out what Lake Leatherwood looked like. Lake Leatherwood City Park is located 4 miles west of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and is made up of 1610 acres of Ozark mountain countryside. Activities available include hiking, biking, boating, fishing, camping, cottage rental, and picnicking.
Although Highway 62 was clear of snow, parts of the drive along County Road 61 (which ends at Lake Leatherwood) were still snow and ice covered.
I was very thankful I had four-wheel drive on my vehicle, and had to use it navigating this snow and ice-covered incline section C.R. 61!
As is typical for limestone bluffs in the Ozarks during this kind of weather, there was a beautiful display of icicles alongside the road, formed when water "oozing" out of the porous rocks, gets frozen when it hits the frigid surface air.
The first area I explored was the Leatherwood Fields. This area has full-size baseball and soccer fields, and also serves at the site of annual festivals, sponsored by the city of Eureka Springs.
The field is equipped with lights for night games, as well as restrooms, and a large gravel parking lot.
The Community First Bank helped pay for this information kiosk that tells about park trails, the city of Eureka Springs, as well as information on the local flora and fauna.
Adjacent to the ball fields parking lot, is a handicap accessible trail, that completely encircles the ball fields. It is called the Sports Field Trail, and makes a one half mile loop, along completely flat terrain.
One gets into the other parts of the Lake Leatherwood City Park, either by hiking/biking trails or by car. That is where you will find the 85-acre spring-fed lake. The water is held back by an 18 foot tall limestone-faced dam. This is also the location of the marina, with covered boat stalls for customers and small fishing boats.
Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboats are also available for rental at the marina. In addition, Northwest Arkansas area kayak dealers sometimes conduct clinics at Lake Leatherwood, where one can try out various kayaks that the particular retail store has available.
This is a view of one of the housekeeping cottages that is available for rentals at Lake Leatherwood, and its location overlooking the lake, makes one imagine enjoying an extended stay there during the lazy days of summer!
Several other rental cottages are spaced out above the marina area, and also have great views of the water or the mountains. You can phone 479-253-7921 for rental information on the cottages, boats, and other facilities within Lake Leatherwood City Park. More information is also available at www.EurekaSprings.com .
There is an outdoor fireplace, with covered pavilion, that can be reserved for group activities.
This fishing boat is being used as a planter, and I can imagine in the spring, it will be full of color, from flowers planted inside.
Just above the lake there is a shower house. Lake Leatherwood was built by the CCC during the WPA era, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One can still see remnants of the CCC masonry work along the trails, including an old stone bridge.
This building serves as the office for Lake Leatherwood City Park. The office, as well as the port-a-potty next to it, are handicap accessible.
This paved launch ramp would make it easier to launch watercraft that you have brought yourself, if you are not renting from the marina.
Park literature states there are 25 miles of hiking, walking, and biking trails within the 1610 acres that make up Lake Leatherwood City Park. The C.A. Fuller trail is 2 miles long (with numerous spurs) and follows the contour just above the lake. When six members of the Harrison Outdoors group hiked at Lake Leatherwood last week, they explored the Fuller Trail, the Mulladay Trail, and the Overlook Trail. These were mostly flat, except for the Overlook Trail, which is a steep climb, to access an area that overlooks the limestone dam. There are several creek crossings along the trails, so wear appropriate shoes, if you are exploring this area!
The Ozark hills here contain many seeps, which keep the trails wet and slick. Such conditions are perfect for critters called salamanders, which may be why there was a large poster on display, showing the various types of Arkansas salamanders one might encounter on their treks through the park. However, PLEASE NOTE!! If you see an alligator head just above the surface of the water near the swim beach, it is MOST LIKELY a decoy that has been placed there to scare away the resident flock of Canada geese. That is because the "fowl droppings" of the geese caused a bacteria count so high last summer, that the beach had to be closed to swimmers. It is hoped that the alligator decoy will deter the geese from "swimming" at the area labeled "swim beach"! That area is reserved for humans only!
I am using this map of the Lake Leatherwood hiking trails as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says "A prudent man gives thought to his steps." Proverbs 14:15. It is a reminder to investigate the area you will be exploring, and "give thought to your steps", by studying a map in advance. My Road Scholar ( www.roadscholar.org ) hiking guide in Sedona had similar advice for me, when he told me "no walking and gawking" while I was negotiating the sandstone cliffs of the Arizona desert. He wanted me to keep my eyes on where I was putting my feet, instead of mindlessly staring at the distant scenery, thinking about the next photo I wanted to take! If you are interested in participating in some of the hikes of the Harrison Outdoors group, you can email the group leader: firstname.lastname@example.org for information. Getting into God's great outdoors will give you "MILES OF SMILES" Tricia