Lake Poinsett State Park in Harrisburg, Arkansas is a small but enjoyable park that offers camping, picnic and play areas, fishing, boating, and hiking.
History of Lake Poinsett:
Lake Poinsett is a 640-acre manmade lake that was built by Arkansas Game and Fish in 1960. The park was added in 1963 and includes a campground and a recreation area.
The lake is shallow which makes it excellent for catching large stringers of bass, crappie, bream, and catfish.
The three hiking trails are easy to mildly moderate in difficult which makes them perfect for families looking to spend some time in nature.
The pavilion is climate controlled and is popular for weddings, family reunions, and corporate parties.
NOTE: THE LAKE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED!
How can a lake be closed? Well if you were to stop by, you would see that entire lake has been drained! Due to erosion and several other factors, the lake is undergoing a several years-long renovation process. You can read more about why the lake was drained in my article on OnlyinArk.com.
Saving a Lake — The Draining of Lake Poinsett
When to Visit:
As with most of Arkansas’s state parks, they are great year-round. Here are some of the activities we suggest each season.
Winter: Plan to do some hiking in the winter. Since the leaves are gone you will be able to see more of the lake area. None of the trails are very steep so hiking is safe and fun even in the snow!
Spring: Head over to the Great Blue Heron Trail and check out the creek that runs along the trailhead. Spring is the perfect time to look for frog eggs, tadpoles and tiny turtles. Enjoy the maple blossoms in early spring and the dogwoods a bit later in the spring. Now is a great time for both tent and RV camping.
Summer: When Lake Poinsett has water, they do not allow swimming so we tend to head to other parks in the summertime. RV camping is nice but you will want to crank up the AC for sure. If you don’t mind the heat the trails are all moderate to easy, but be sure to bring along some water.
Fall: We have always enjoyed hiking at Lake Poinsett in the fall. Many of the trees have beautiful color and it is fun to collect the leaves. If you are a tent camper, fall is your BEST time. The days are usually quite warm or even hot but the evenings will be cool and comfortable.
How to Get to Lake Poinsett:
From Harrisburg, Arkansas you will travel east on HWY 14 for about 1 mile then turn right onto HWY 163. Travel south for 2 miles and the park will be located on your right.
Upon entering the park the Visitor Center will be just ahead on the right. Travel straight to access the day-use areas such as hiking trails, playground and picnic areas and the boat launch (when the lake is open). Turn to the left to access the pavilion and the campground area. Public restrooms are located on the north side of the pavilion.
The park itself is FREE to all visitors. There are fees for camping and for renting the pavilion.
How Long Should You Stay:
If you are camping you may want to spend several days in the area. Since the lake is currently closed and boating and fishing are the primary draws for this park, you will be limited on what you can do. We only live about an hour from this park so we usually plan to spend about an hour and a half doing some light hiking before heading to some of the other nearby attractions. When the lake opens back up we will enjoy longer visits so we can fish or paddle around the lake.
What to Do in Lake Poinsette State Park:
Great Blue Heron Trail
This trail is mostly wooded and not too difficult. We regularly hike this trail with our toddler but it is not suitable for strollers, so keep that in mind.
- Total Distance: 1.1 miles
- Time: 45 minutes
- Trail Type: Loop trail with a short spur trail to the lake.
- Blazes: White Dot
- Difficulty: Relatively easy to slightly moderate.
- Parking: Park in the lot just southeast of the playground.
Lake Poinsett also has two additional trails, including a new one, that are not shown on the park map. Check with the Vistors Center for information on these trails.
The beautiful, shaded camping area overlooking the lake is open year-round. Twenty-six campsites are equipped with dual-voltage electrical hookups and freeze-proof water connections, plus a table and grill. Plenty of room is available nearby for those who wish to pitch a tent.
- Number of Sites: 29
- Hookups: 4 Class A – Water/50 Amp, 22 Class B – Water/30 Amp, 3 Tent Sites
- Amenities: Seasonal Bathhouse, Dumping Station
- Fees: Class A – $29/night, Class B – $23/night, Tent Sites – Call Park
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
When the lake is open, Lake Poinsett offers excellent fishing both from a boat and from the shore.
Tips for Visiting Lake Poinsett:
Lake Poinsett is a smaller park and is located several miles from any stores. The Visitors Center does sell some vending machine style snacks along with a few emergency camping supplies, trail guides and such.
When the lake is open you can also find a bait shop and small boat rental unit on site. It is currently closed while the lake is under repair.
If you are just stopping by for a quick hike there are several other attractions you may want to check out while you are in the area.
Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center
Craighead Forest Park
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Learn more about Lake Poinsett State Parl, get trail maps, and make reservations on their website.