Beaver’s Bend State Park Write-up and Review

Me and the Ozark Trail 45L at a lookout of Mountain Fork River (Skyline Trail)
Lookout on Skyline Trail of Mountain Fork River

Beaver’s Bend State Park is located in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains bordering Broken Bow Lake. The Mountain Fork River runs through the park and the area is well-known for excellent trout fishing. Besides the excellent fishing, the beauty of the surroundings make it an excellent park to visit. You can enjoying peaceful kayaking among cypress trees, challenging hikes, and every kind of camping. For those who like more developed activities there is also a train ride, tennis courts, miniature golf, playgrounds, and a riding stable, on park grounds

There really are beavers!
There really are beavers!

 

 

Getting there:

The park is only a little over 3 hours from the DFW area, making it a great location for a weekend getaway. Cell phone reception is spotty near the park so know your directions ahead of time. It is fairly easy to located being right off of US 259. The park also has very large signs which are hard to miss.

Camping:

Primitive campsite at Dogwood Campground
Primitive campsite at Dogwood Campground

At Beaver’s Bend State Park there really is something for everyone. For those whose idea of “camping” is staying in a cabin, there are several available to rent. There are also RV sites, some with water and electric, and some with sewage hook-ups as well. For tent camping, there are primitive campsites that have water spigots nearby. Then there is the Skyline portion of the David L. Boren hiking trail, where backpackers are allowed to camp along. With the exception of the cabins, all the formal campsites border the water making it easy to enjoy the river.

Camping by Bee Creek:

Bee Creek
Bee Creek

We chose to backpack in and took the Skyline Trail to where it met Bee Creek. Camping is allowed all along the Skyline trail but Bee creek is the only place where it is level enough to set up a tent. Hammock camping would be possible on other areas of the trail but the steep grades surrounding you would get old quickly. Also, while there are other creeks along the trail most of them are not flowing in dry weather. Bee creek flows year round and that makes it an ideal camp location.

When we crossed Bee Creek, we found a campsite that people had added to over time. Thoughtful previous hikers had used large slate rocks to build benches, seats, and even a reclining chair. There was a well-constructed fire pit as well, although the park does not allow campfires for backpackers. We set up camp here and then went to explore up the creek. Little did we know what the creek had in store for us.

Our Campsite:

The perfect campsite
The perfect campsite
The outdoor living room complete with recliners, coffee table, and fireplace

When we rounded a bend we found an even nicer campsite. This one had a bigger fire pit, two stone recliners and a stone coffee table. We felt like kids who had found a secret fort in the woods. The location, away from the trail, meant that hikers would not be passing through this site. The creek had a section here about 2 1/2 feet deep, that made it nice for wading. There was also a small rivulet bubbling into Bee creek that made relaxing background sounds. We decided that the added privacy, the extra recliner, and the better creek location warranted us packing up camp and moving upstream.

Babbling brook feeding into Bee Creek
Babbling brook feeding into Bee Creek

Every weekend we go camping, we marvel at all the beautiful things and the peaceful surroundings we have the privilege to enjoy, but this was our best campsite yet. Normally we are very active on our trips but when we found our perfect little fort in the woods we decided we didn’t want to go anywhere else. We set up our Kroex hammock right next to the creek and spent a good part of our day relaxing in it while watching the little fish in the creek.

From the time we set up camp to the time we left we saw nor heard one other person. We

Lazy Saturday afternoon
Lazy Saturday afternoon

felt like we had found our own private paradise.

Bee Creek
Bee Creek

 

Hiking:

Beaver Creek Nature Trail Head. Go to the right of the sign for the shortest route to the Skyline Trail.
Beaver Creek Nature Trail Head. Go to the right of the sign for the shortest route to the Skyline Trail.

To get to the Skyline trail where camping is allowed, we parked across from the Dogwood camping area and hiked the right portion of the Cedar Bluff Nature Trail. This trail connects with the Skyline Trail at the part where the Cedar Bluff Trail starts to loop back. Stay to the right at the fork and you will be on the Skyline trail. The park ranger told us it was about a 3 mile hike from the Dogwood campground to Bee Creek. It took us an hour and 15 minutes on the way out and an hour and a half on the way back. If terrain slows you down a lot I would allow at least two hours to get out there.

Steep!
Steep!

The park warns that only experienced hikers should hike the Skyline trail and they should be properly attired in hiking boots. While it’s not mountain climbing, the trail is strenuous and the rocky terrain and steep grades mean there are treacherous parts where a misplaced foot can lead to severe injury or even death. We are not marathon runners but we are in good shape and parts of the trail left us out of breath. Many of the inclines were steeper than 45 degrees and some seemed more than 60.

The GoPro Camera Man
The GoPro Camera Man

 

 

 

The beginning portion of the trail offers beautiful vistas of the river. The water is so clear that you can see fish in the river from your perch high on the hillside. There are three creek crossings before getting to Bee Creek but they only held a little standing water while we were there. One of the creeks, when flowing, ends in a waterfall into Bee creek. It can be seen from the top, by hiking a little off the trail, or from the bottom, by hiking along Bee Creek. The forest the trail passes through is a mix of hardwoods and pines. There are many pretty wildflowers along the path and we saw signs of deer and other wildlife.

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Meals:

Fruit and Nut Oatmeal

Gumbo

Chicken and Dumplings

Chocolate chip muffin cake

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