(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT) held an event today at Lake Sylvia Recreation Area to officially mark the beginning of operating and managing the area as a unit of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. ADPHT has signed a historic property lease with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to do so. The USFS will continue to partner with ADPHT and Arkansas State Parks (ASP) in the environmental management of the area.
This plan was made public last month when Gov. Asa Hutchinson included it as part of the announcement that a new Office of Outdoor Recreation would be housed within the Secretary’s Office of ADPHT. At that time, Gov. Hutchinson emphasized the push to expand recreational opportunities in Arkansas that contribute to the state’s tourism value.
“I am so pleased that we are beginning this partnership with USFS allowing this important recreational area to be a part of our outstanding system of state parks,” said ADPHT Secretary Stacy Hurst. “The area can now be available year-round to campers, hikers, and those looking for an easy-to-get-to respite from the city.”
The camping and day-use areas are open to the public. The day-use area is now available at no charge. Details and prices for camping sites can be found here: https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/lake-sylvia-recreation-area
The historic property lease with USFS also includes Camp Ouachita, which was constructed during the Great Depression between 1936 and 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) specifically for the use of the Girl Scout Council. The great hall and cabins were designed in the rustic style, popular during that period. Camp Ouachita is on the National Register of Historic Places and contains a great hall (Ogden Hall), a caretaker’s residence, and seven rustic rental cabins rehabilitated from the native stone buildings that were the screened camping cabins. After some renovation work, the great hall and cabins will be available for rental through the Arkansas State Parks system.
“As a ninth-generation Arkansan and lifelong outdoorsman, I’m excited that more Arkansas families will have access to explore the new recreational opportunities at Camp Ouachita and the Lake Sylvia Recreation Area. Today’s event is an example of the good things that can happen when the federal, state, and local government work together toward a common goal to expand and enhance The Natural State’s outdoor resources for all Arkansans to enjoy,” said Rep. French Hill. “I was honored to join Secretary Hurst, State Parks Director Grady Spann, and Ouachita National Forest Supervisor Troy Heithecker for today’s event.”
Lake Sylvia will operate as a unit of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The staff at Pinnacle Mountain is often asked about nearby camping sites and for many years has directed people to Lake Sylvia. Arkansas State Parks is in the process of hiring an assistant superintendent and law enforcement ranger and maintenance technician to oversee the Lake Sylvia operation. They hope to have these positions filled and in place soon.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with the U.S. Forest Service on the Lake Sylvia Recreation Area part of Pinnacle Mountain State Park,” said Director of Arkansas State Parks Grady Spann. “We hope this partnership is one that continues and grows as we look for opportunities to provide recreational areas for the public to enjoy. So, today is a historic day for Arkansas, state parks, and our partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.”
Lake Sylvia is located on the eastern end of the Ouachita National Forest in Perry County, Arkansas. It was constructed from 1936-1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) for the Forest Service. In 1937 the CCC constructed a small recreation area located on the south shore of the lake. Originally known as the Narrow Creek Area, this small day-use area has evolved into a modern recreation site with picnic facilities, restrooms, showers, and camping with full hookups.
“Today signifies the partnership between the United States Forest Service, Ouachita National Forest, and Arkansas State Parks,” said Ouachita National Forest Supervisor, Troy Heithecker. “We are looking forward to bringing increased activities and opportunities to the local communities and the citizens of Arkansas, and all those who come to Arkansas to visit and enjoy the great, wonderful, outdoor resources that the Forest Service and the State of Arkansas have to offer.”
About Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism has three major divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage, and Arkansas Tourism. Arkansas State Parks manages 52 state parks and promotes Arkansas as a tourist destination for people around the country. Arkansas Heritage preserves and promotes Arkansas’s natural and cultural history and heritage through four historic museums and four cultural preservation agencies. Arkansas Tourism improves the state’s economy by generating travel and enhancing the image of the state.
About Lake Sylvia Recreation Area
Lake Sylvia Recreation Area is nestled between scenic pine and oak-clad mountains in the northeast corner of the Ouachita National Forest. The serene 18-acre lake is noted for its swimming and fishing opportunities only 38 miles west of Little Rock. The trail system offers visitors an opportunity to hike, enjoy an easy nature walk, connect with the Ouachita National Recreation Trail for a backpacking experience, go trail running, or gravel grinding. There is also a swimming beach, bathhouses, and picnic sites. Interpretive programming is offered. The area has 14 campsites with water and electricity, 8 primitive sites, seven camper cabins with bathrooms, two group tent camping sites, and a group lodging option that may include 7 camper cabins, a dining hall, and a kitchen.