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PHOTOS, VIDEO: Trail circles watery gem in Eureka Springs

by Flip Putthoff | March 5, 2019 at 1:00 a.m.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Black Bass Lake, seen in January , has an aura of wilderness, but it's right in the middle of Eureka Springs. A one-mile trail circles the small lake.

Explorers are more likely to be toting hiking sticks than fishing poles when they're surrounded by the beauty of Black Bass Lake in Eureka Springs.

The little lake shimmers in the sun or becomes a quiet reflecting pool on a calm day. The lake surface mirrors the hills and woods that cradle Black Bass Lake and park.

Visit Black Bass Lake

Black Bass Lake is on Oil Springs Road in Eureka Springs. The road is off U.S. 62 approximately one-half mile west of Best Western Eureka Inn. Turn on Oil Springs Road and go one-half mile to the parking area. There is a sign pointing to the lake.

Source: Staff report

A one-mile hiking trail that loops around the lake is the draw for most visitors. It hugs the shoreline most of the way, but a spur trail leads hikers up and along a bluff on one side of this watery gem.

There's the stone dam to admire close to the small parking area and information kiosk. Dam construction dates back to 1894 when the lake was built for fire protection and water supply.

Exploring close to the dam isn't allowed, but explorers can get close to a dazzling waterfall at the spillway after a heavy rain.

An aura of wilderness may be the most amazing aspect of Black Bass Lake. It's smack dab in the middle of Eureka Springs, but feels like it's miles from civilization.

Other than the dam and parking, there's not a home or building in sight along the trail. There's no traffic noise, though it would be easy to walk from the lake to the historic homes and attractions just over the ridge.

Gene Williams of Rogers paused along the trail to savor the quiet. He visited Black Bass Lake on a warm sunny day, rare for this winter.

"You'd think you're in the middle of the Ozark National Forest, with this lake and this trail," he said. "You'd never know you're in an urban area."

Hard rain overnight had every little seep and waterway flowing fast and pouring into Black Bass Lake. The rising lake level had the spillway waterfall roaring.

A wet-weather spring poured from cracks in the rock in a cascade of white water on its way to the lake. Cascading water and a breeze sifting through the pines were the only sounds.

Standing Rock is a landmark that juts 10 feet on the shoreline at the start of the hike near the dam. At the head of the lake, hikers can bushwhack up two streams and explore the forest. Wooden bridges prevent wet feet.

One mile of hiking begged for another this sun-splashed day. Williams headed uphill to tackle the upper Bluff Trail. The path the twists along rock walls and ledges high above the water.

"To do the lower trail, then do this one here, it gives you a whole different perspective," he said during a water break.

Williams had the park to himself during midmorning. By noon, couples, solo hikers and people walking their dogs were out in force. Circling Black Bass Lake is a cabin fever elixir.

All these hikers and not one fishing pole to be seen at a lake named for the regal black bass. Rich Carlsen, who owns resorts around Eureka Springs, might be the first to bring a rod to the lake come springtime.

Black bass do indeed swim in the lake, he confirmed, but they may not be the marquee fish at the little lake.

"The lake also has a healthy population of bluegill," Carlsen said. "People might want to head over there with some worms or a tube full of crickets."

It could be a two-fisted trip. Hiking staff in one hand and a cane pole in the other.

Sports on 03/05/2019

Print Headline: Cabin fever elixir

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