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Arkansas State Parks

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Timberlands Region
Poison Springs State Forest
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It is always a great day for a picnic in the park.
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Poison Springs State Forest, located in southwestern Arkansas, is a captivating natural haven that encompasses over 18,000 acres of diverse landscapes. This enchanting forest boasts a rich biodiversity with its dense woodlands, rolling hills, and picturesque streams. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature while exploring the numerous hiking trails that wind through towering pine trees and vibrant wildflowers. The forest also offers opportunities for camping, fishing, and wildlife observation, allowing visitors to connect with the serene beauty of Arkansas' wilderness.
Nature of the Area
Poison Springs State Forest, located in southwestern Arkansas, is a diverse and captivating natural area that showcases the state's unique beauty. Spanning over 23,000 acres, this forest is characterized by its dense woodlands, rolling hills, and picturesque streams. The forest boasts a rich biodiversity with a variety of plant and animal species thriving within its boundaries. Visitors can explore numerous trails that wind through the forest, offering opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation. With its tranquil atmosphere and stunning scenery, Poison Springs State Forest provides an ideal escape for nature enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in Arkansas' natural wonders.
History of the Area
Poison Springs State Forest is located in southwestern Arkansas, near the town of Camden. The forest has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century.

In the early 1800s, this area was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Caddo and Quapaw. However, with the arrival of European settlers, conflicts arose between the tribes and settlers over land ownership.

During the Civil War, Poison Springs became a significant site. In April 1864, Confederate forces under General John S. Marmaduke clashed with Union troops led by Colonel James M. Williams in what is known as the Battle of Poison Springs. The battle resulted in a Confederate victory but had severe consequences for both sides.

After their victory at Poison Springs, Confederate soldiers captured a Union supply train carrying provisions for African American troops serving in the Union Army. The Confederates then massacred many of these soldiers and freed slaves who were accompanying them. This event became known as the "Massacre at Poison Spring" and was one of several incidents during the war that highlighted racial tensions.

Following the war, this area underwent various changes in land ownership and usage. In 1938, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established Camp Pike near Poison Springs to provide employment opportunities during the Great Depression. CCC workers engaged in reforestation efforts and constructed recreational facilities within what is now Poison Springs State Forest.

In 1957, Arkansas acquired approximately 23,000 acres of land to establish Poison Springs State Forest officially. Since then, it has been managed by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division.

Today, Poison Springs State Forest offers various recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing opportunities. It serves as an important natural resource for both conservation and outdoor enthusiasts while preserving its historical significance related to Native American tribes and the Civil War.
1. Poison Springs State Forest Campground This campground is located within the state forest and offers primitive camping sites with picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets. It is a great option for those looking for a rustic camping experience.

2. Lake Greeson Recreation Area Located near Poison Springs State Forest, Lake Greeson offers multiple campgrounds with various amenities such as electric hookups, showers, and boat ramps. Daisy State Park Campground and Self Creek Campground are popular choices in this area.

3. Ouachita National Forest Just south of Poison Springs State Forest, Ouachita National Forest provides numerous camping opportunities. There are several developed campgrounds like Charlton Recreation Area and Crystal Springs Recreation Area that offer amenities such as water, restrooms, and picnic tables.

4. Private Campgrounds There are also private campgrounds in the vicinity of Poison Springs State Forest. Some popular options include Shady Lake RV Park Campground and Arrowhead Cabin Canoe Rentals.
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The forest is home to several lakes and ponds where you can fish for various species. Some of the popular fishing spots in Poison Springs State Forest include:

1. Poison Springs Lake This 640-acre lake is known for its largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish. It has a boat ramp and fishing pier for easy access.

2. Hurricane Creek Lake This 90-acre lake is stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish. It also has a boat ramp and fishing pier.

3. Bear Creek Lake This 625-acre lake is located on the southern edge of the state forest. It offers excellent fishing opportunities for largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish.

4. Various Ponds Throughout the state forest, there are smaller ponds that offer fishing opportunities for bass, crappie, bluegill, and other panfish.

Poison Springs State Forest is located near Camden

1. Poison Springs Picnic Area: Located in Poison Springs State Forest, this picnic area offers shaded picnic tables and charcoal grills. Enjoy a peaceful meal surrounded by the beauty of the forest.

2. Lake Ivy Picnic Area: Situated near Lake Ivy, this picnic spot provides picturesque views of the water. Pack a lunch and enjoy a leisurely picnic while observing the abundant wildlife in the area.

3. Dry Creek Picnic Area: Nestled along the banks of Dry Creek, this picnic area offers a serene setting for outdoor dining. Listen to the soothing sounds of the creek as you enjoy your meal with family and friends.

4. Whispering Pines Picnic Area: Surrounded by towering pine trees, Whispering Pines Picnic Area is a popular choice for picnickers. The scenic surroundings make it an ideal spot for relaxation and connecting with nature.

5. Pine Grove Picnic Area: If you prefer a more secluded picnic experience, Pine Grove Picnic Area is the perfect choice. Tucked away in a grove of pine trees, this spot offers a tranquil atmosphere for enjoying your meal.

6. Willow Creek Picnic Area: Located near Willow Creek, this picnic spot features a peaceful and idyllic setting. Take a break from your outdoor activities and enjoy a peaceful picnic by the creek.

7. Thorny Creek Picnic Area: Situated along Thorny Creek, this picnic area offers a beautiful backdrop for your outdoor meal. Enjoy the babbling sounds of the creek as you savor your food in a peaceful environment.

8. Forest View Picnic Area: As the name suggests, Forest View Picnic Area offers stunning views of the surrounding forest. Take a break from hiking or exploring and have a picnic while enjoying the natural beauty around you.

9. Sandy Beach Picnic Area: If you're looking to combine a picnic with some fun in the sun, Sandy Beach Picnic Area is the place to go. Located near a sandy beach, this spot allows you to enjoy a meal and then take a refreshing swim in the nearby water.

10. Spring Valley Picnic Area: This picnic area is nestled in the scenic Spring Valley, offering a serene setting for your outdoor meal. Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance and enjoy a memorable picnic experience.

Keep in mind that some picnic areas in Poison Springs State Forest may have limited facilities, so it's advisable to bring your own food, drinks, and supplies. Additionally, always follow Leave No Trace principles and properly dispose of your trash to preserve the natural beauty of the forest.
Hunting is allowed in Poison Springs State Forest.

1. Deer Hunting Arkansas has a well-known deer population, and hunting for white-tailed deer is permitted in Poison Springs State Forest during the designated deer hunting season.

2. Turkey Hunting Turkey hunting is also allowed in Poison Springs State Forest during the designated turkey hunting season. Hunters must follow state regulations regarding bag limits and licensing requirements.

3. Small Game Hunting Small game hunting, including squirrel, rabbit, and quail hunting, is generally permitted in Poison Springs State Forest. However, hunters should check with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for specific regulations and seasons.

4. Waterfowl Hunting Waterfowl hunting, such as duck and goose hunting, may be allowed in certain areas of Poison Springs State Forest during the appropriate waterfowl season. Regulations regarding bag limits and licensing requirements must be followed.

5. Feral Hog Hunting Feral hogs are considered a nuisance species in Arkansas, and their population needs to be controlled. Depending on current regulations, feral hog hunting may be allowed in Poison Springs State Forest outside of regular game seasons.

It is crucial for hunters to review the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's rules and regulations before planning a hunt in Poison Springs State Forest or any other public land area within the state.
1. Poison Springs Battleground State Park Trail: This is a 0.5-mile trail that takes you through the historic battleground of the Civil War's Battle of Poison Spring.

2. Ouachita National Recreation Trail: A portion of this extensive, over-200 mile long trail passes through the forest offering hikers stunning views and diverse wildlife sightings.

3. White Oak Lake Loop: An easy to moderate difficulty level hiking loop around White Oak lake with beautiful water vistas and opportunities for bird watching.

4. Sandbar Picnic Area Trails: These are short trails leading from picnic areas to sandbars along Little Missouri River providing scenic spots perfect for family outings or solo adventures alike.

5. Timberland Walking Pathway: It's an educational pathway where visitors can learn about different types of trees in Arkansas while enjoying their hike.

6. Poison Springs Wildlife Management Area Hiking Paths: Numerous unmarked paths crisscrossing throughout this area offer adventurous hikes amidst dense forests teeming with local fauna like deer, turkey etc.

7. Camden Expedition Scenic Drive: Though primarily meant as a driving route it has several stop points which lead onto small walking/hiking trails into deeper parts within state forest giving glimpses into its rich history related to civil war era events.

8. White Oaks Nature Walks: Short nature walks near camping sites at white oaks campground provide relaxed strolls under canopy cover ideal for beginners or those seeking leisurely paced exploration.

9. Horsehead Creek Side Trekking Routes: For more experienced trekkers these routes alongside Horsehead creek present challenging terrains coupled with serene beauty offered by riparian landscapes.

10. Birdwatcher's Delight Track: As name suggests it offers excellent opportunity for avid bird watchers who could spot numerous native species during their trek on this track.

1. Poison Springs Wildlife Management Area This area within the state forest provides excellent birding opportunities. It consists of diverse habitats, including bottomland hardwood forests, upland pine forests, and open fields. You can spot a variety of species such as woodpeckers, warblers, sparrows, and raptors.

2. Poison Springs Loop Trail This 3-mile loop trail is a popular spot for birdwatching. The trail winds through mixed pine and hardwood forests, offering opportunities to observe woodland birds like thrushes, vireos, and flycatchers.

3. Caney Creek Wilderness Area Located within Poison Springs State Forest, this wilderness area is known for its pristine natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Birdwatchers can explore the trails along Caney Creek and encounter various species such as herons, egrets, ducks, and songbirds.

4. Ouachita National Recreation Trail The Ouachita Trail passes through Poison Springs State Forest and offers an extensive hiking experience with numerous birding opportunities along the way. The trail traverses diverse habitats ranging from dense forests to open meadows where you can spot a wide range of bird species.

5. Lake Greeson Although not directly within Poison Springs State Forest but nearby, Lake Greeson is a popular destination for waterfowl watching. The lake attracts migratory waterbirds during certain seasons, including ducks, geese, herons, and egrets.

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1. Start by heading south on US-79 S from Camden or north on US-79 N from Magnolia.
2. Continue on US-79 for approximately 15 miles until you reach the town of Bearden.
3. In Bearden, turn east onto AR-203 E/Main St and continue for about 4 miles.
4. After 4 miles, turn left onto County Rd 10/Bearden Cutoff Rd.
5. Follow County Rd 10/Bearden Cutoff Rd for approximately 7 miles until you reach the entrance of Poison Springs State Forest.

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Arkansas State Parks