Saturday, February 1, 2020

Lake Fayetteville Trail

Lake Fayetteville Trail

The Lake Fayetteville Trail is a 6-mile paved loop that circles the lake and surrounding park. The Lake Fayetteville Trail is very popular with hikers, bikers, and joggers in Northwest Arkansas. It also connects directly into the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway for additional hiking and biking treks. For example, you can hike or bike on south toward Dickson Street, or north toward Springdale and Rogers. There is plenty of parking available near the park's entrance, as well as some limited parking nearby in neighboring Veteran's Memorial Park.

Lake Fayetteville

Lake Fayetteville

Lake Fayetteville is located on the north side of the city (north of the mall) very close to Springdale. It was constructed in 1949 (probably to meet the city's water needs in the years before Beaver Lake). The lake is about 200 acres - which is larger than most municipal lakes. It is formed by a nearly one-mile dam that impounds a small creek. At the end of the dam, a large iron bridge crosses above the spillway where the water leaves the lake pouring over the dam and running down the step cliff like a giant waterfall.

Since the city of Fayetteville is located on a high point in the Ozark Mountains, the area around the lake is often windy. That makes it a little cooler near the water while hiking or biking on a hot, summer day. Unfortunately, no swimming (or even wading) is allowed in the lake. However, I have seen a lot of fishermen so I am assuming that fishing is allowed. I consider the lake to be the crown jewel of Fayetteville's outdoor recreational opportunities.

Lake Fayetteville Trail

Lake Fayetteville Dam

The Lake Fayetteville Trail is one of my favorite hiking treks in Northwest Arkansas. You just can't beat the gorgeous views of the lake with the surrounding Ozark Mountains in the background. Hiking or biking the trail is very easy. Even though the trail surrounds the lake, there are several long sections where you aren't even close to the water. Instead, you find yourself hiking through lightly wooded areas, as well as up and down some hills. I remember one hill was very steep power-walking up it. Therefore, you do get a good workout from that hill lol. Plus, 6 miles is a decent trek - even on pavement. One of my favorite spots on the trail is walking along the dam to the iron bridge. It is fun to stand on the bridge above the water raging below as it leaves the lake.

In addition to the beautiful lake views, the trail passes by a few cool areas to explore:
  • Veteran's Memorial Park
  • Scenic Mountain Bike Trails
  • Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks
I actually started my hike from the Veteran's Memorial Park. The Lake Fayetteville trail runs right through the park. The park features some nice shaded areas, a sand volleyball court, restrooms, and picnic tables.

Veteran's Memorial Park in Fayetteville
I even brought a picnic!

The only thing about Veteran's Memorial park is that parking there can get crowded - especially on the weekends. Other than that, this park was a really nice starting point for my hiking trek around the lake. 

Directly east of the park are some really scenic wooded areas that hug the south shoreline of Lake Fayetteville. This is definitely off the beaten path. Anyway, there are a few miles of dirt mountain bike trails along the south-side of the lake. I hiked on one that took me to a hidden cove with an old floating dock. I didn't see anyone else on these secluded trails. However, if you like to mountain bike, this area would be a lot of fun. 

The eastern edge of the Lake Fayetteville Trail passes by the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks. (There is an admission fee to view the gardens). The botanical gardens feature several types of flowers and plants - even a Japanese garden.

Lake Fayetteville Park and Marina

Lake Fayetteville Marina

Surrounding the lake is a beautiful park that offers visitors the largest open green space in Fayetteville (over 600 acres). For example, I usually see lots of people playing disk golf, having picnics, and just enjoying their time outdoors. My favorite resting spot on the trail is at the Lake Fayetteville Marina. I love sitting on the wooden docks because you can really feel the waves moving them on a windy day. 

Speaking of the marina, you can rent paddle boats and kayaks to enjoy the lake. You can also bring your own kayak or boat. However, there are restrictions on the type of boats allowed. (The boat ramp is next to the marina). I have seen people out in kayaks and boats during the winter - so I am sure the lake is especially popular in the summer. You can also rent bikes at the boat house to ride on the trail. I believe they sell snacks and drinks too.

In short, the next time you are looking for a fun hiking or biking trek in Northwest Arkansas, check out the Lake Fayetteville Trail. The trail offers a bit of everything: nice views of the lake and Ozark Mountains, wooded scenery, a decent workout, and a fun place to enjoy the outdoors. If you like playing on the water, rent a kayak or paddle boat. 

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