Southeastern Oklahoma is home to Beavers Bend State Park, one of the most popular areas for outdoor recreation in the state. Known for its scenic forests, clean water, and miles of hiking trails, this 1,300-acre park is the perfect escape for outdoor enthusiasts in the South and Midwest.
Established in 1937, the land that makes up Beavers Bend was inhabited by the Choctaw Tribe and is a part of the Choctaw Nation, which encompasses a large part of southeastern Oklahoma. The history of this unique place is rich with the influence of many different cultures that included the Spanish and the French. The state park was developed on the grounds of an old Choctaw settlement and named for local resident John T. Beavers, part Choctaw himself.
Eighty years later, Beavers Bend State Park is one of the most attended in the state, attracting hikers, mountain bikers, paddlers, and other outdoor enthusiasts to its trails and cliffs. Beginners are welcome, too, as Beavers Bend’s varied terrain makes it a flexible place to break into a new outdoor sport. Whether you grew up building fires in the woods, or are a first-timer looking for a change of scenery, Beavers Bend is your park.
Broken Bow Lake is one of the classic attractions in Beavers Bend. The calm waters stretch for 22 miles, surrounded by old mountains and lush, green trees. The crystal-clear water has a something to offer all kinds of water sport enthusiasts. Fishermen cast lines all year long on the lake, reeling in sunfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, channel catfish, and flathead. It’s also a prime location for swimming, boating, and paddling.
Fishing enthusiasts can also try their luck in the park’s Lower Mountain Fork River. About 3,000 rainbow trout are stocked year-round in the five-mile stretch of the river that falls within Beavers Bend’s boundaries each summer and the river’s cold waters make it a prime trout spot all year. Canoes and kayaks are also welcome on the river. If you follow it downstream for a few miles, you’ll hit the picturesque Presbyterian Falls, a rapid frequented by whitewater kayakers.
Another major attraction within the state park is its nature center. Visitors interested in wildlife will want to stop by for info on the park and surrounding region. Beavers Bend State Park Nature Center also offers plenty of good information on where to camp, bird, hike, and fish. Swing by to ask the friendly workers for insider tips.
Secrets of the Park
Beavers Bend State Park has plenty of hidden adventures for those who know where to look. One of the best is a lesser-known hiking trail along the Lower Mountain Fork River. Most hikers head to the Skyline Trail, a 12-mile path through the woods that leads to a river and waterfall. While this trail is certainly scenic, it also sees quite a bit of traffic. If you’re looking for a more isolated escape, head to the Lower Mountain Fork, a trail that winds for 19 miles along the best whitewater run in Oklahoma. Keep an eye out for kayakers battling the rapids!
Mountain bikers can grind some gravel in McCurtain County. Both single-track and multi-use trails traverse the Ouachita Mountains that surround Broken Bow Lake. From cool creek bottoms to high hillsides with spectacular views, there’s a trail for every skill level. Summer is most popular, but southern Oklahoma’s moderate climate makes this a four-season destination for sure.
The park is also a trail runner’s paradise, and the David Boren Trail stretches on for another 12 miles beyond the multi-use section. As you continue to follow it north, you’ll see fewer and fewer people, making it an ideal place to log a hilly, 16-mile run. If you’re in it for an extra long workout, you can jog it north and then back south again, as the trail isn’t a loop path, but an out-and-back one.
Making the Most of Your Visit
- Cabins and lodging are available throughout the Beavers Bend area. A great resource to help you find a cabin is found here.
- Looking for primitive camping? The only place to do so within the park boundaries is along the David Boren Hiking Trail. Keep in mind that campfires are not permitted, but cooking meals over camp stoves is.
- Photographers will want to hit Broken Bow Lake in the early morning. A foggy mist rises from the waters around sunrise, creating a picture-perfect view.
- If you’re fishing for trout, you’ll need to pick up a trout-specific license to carry along with your regular Oklahoma fishing license.
- Fall is one of the best seasons to visit Beavers Bend, as it’s an excellent spot for leaf peeping.
- Spring is prime for bird-watching, with more than 320 species sighted in the wetlands of the Red Slough. Free, guided tours are available year-round.
So as you can see, McCurtain County has so much to do, you’ll just have to stay awhile. Head this way to start planning your next trip around the Beavers Bend.
Originally written by RootsRated for McCurtain County.