Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Cedar Lake Trail, along the north side, Ouachita National Forest

The Cedar Lake Trail at the Cedar Lake Recreation Area in the Ouachita National Forest (LeFlore County, Oklahoma) is a pretty easy 2.8-mile loop with lots of great views of the lake.

Aside from a few small hilly areas, the trail is generally level. The net elevation change is only about 80 feet.

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
View of Cedar Lake from the north side of the Cedar Lake Trail. Winding Stair Mountain in the distance.
Getting to Cedar Lake Recreation Area

To get there from Poteau, just take Highway 59 south toward Heavener. About 10 miles past Heavener, turn right onto Holson Valley Road. Watch for the Cedar Lake Recreation Area sign. Then just follow the signs to the campground.

There is usually plenty of parking at the large picnic and swimming area. There is a $3 fee per vehicle day-use fee.

CLICK – Google Maps Directions to Cedar Lake Recreation Area

 

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Much of the trail is paved in the campground areas. This is by the North Shore Campground Loop, near the dam.
The Cedar Lake Trail

After you park and pay your fee, head down to the lake and look for the sidewalk that runs next to the lake. That is the trail.

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
The trail goes across the dam. This is from the north end of the dam.

The Cedar Lake Trail circles nearly the entire 86-acre lake. (Check out the maps below.) Most of it is a dirt path but there are stretches in the camping and day-use areas where it is a sidewalk. This is one of them.

I usually turn right (heading north) and take the trail counterclockwise.

The first half-mile or so goes by and near the day-use and North Shore camping areas. This part of the trail is a mix of wooded and open areas.

Then you will get to the earthen dam at the northeast corner of the lake. The trail path on this open grassy area is kept mowed so it stays passable. There are some cool views of the lake on and near the dam.

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
East-facing view from the north side of Cedar Lake. The dam is to the right.

Then the trail turns left. For the next mile or so, the trail is wooded and makes a path around the north and west parts of the lake usually not being very far from the shoreline.

There are a lot of great views of the lake on these parts of the trail, as there is on most of the trail. From the north parts of the trail, you can see Winding Stair Mountain in the distance.

At the lake’s southwest corner, there is a large wood-and-metal footbridge over a scenic creek. (There were kayakers there when I was there in November.)

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Cedar Lake Trail and Cedar Lake, Ouachita National Forest (panoramic)

From here, the trail turns eastward and starts heading around the south side of the lake eventually returning back to swimming area where we started. In this stretch, the trail is mostly wooded, but it does have some open areas in the south camping and day use areas.

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Fall foliage on the Cedar Lake Trail in the northwest inlet
Final Notes

The trail is frequently used, well maintained, and easy to follow with white blazes.

Also at the lake is Old Pine Interpretive Trail, a .4-mile nature trail. (I have not hiked it.)

When I did my hike there on November 8, 2014, it was a beautiful sunny day with some great fall foliage. These photos are from that hike. (More pics from that hike are here.)

Don’t expect any cell coverage at Cedar Lake. I had zero AT&T coverage on my hike.

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
There were some brilliant young maple trees on the trail in the northwest inlet area (panoramic).
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Footbridge in the northwest inlet area, Cedar Lake Trail
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Western part of Cedar Lake Trail, Ouachita National Forest
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Fall foliage on the western part of the Cedar Lake Trail
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Footbridge at the southwest corner of Cedar Lake
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Cedar Lake Trail and a nearby marshy area on the south side of the lake’s southwest inlet (panoramic).
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Another shot on the south side of the southwest inlet, Cedar Lake Trail, Ouachita National Forest
Photo Gallery

Click here or below for full-screen photo gallery.

Maps
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita National Forest) – Contour Map (click to enlarge)
CLICK – Interactive Trail Map
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Official USFS Cedar Lake Trail Map pdf
Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest) – 3 mi photo
Approximate elevation profile based on gps data.

Cedar Lake Trail (Ouachita Forest)

LocationCedar Lake Recreation Area, Ouachita National Forest, LeFlore County, Oklahoma
Length/Type2.8 mile loop. (Note: $3 day use fee per vehicle.)
DifficultyMildly challenging (2 of 5)
Gpx file by MikeGpx file link
Date HikedNovember 8, 2014
DirectionsGoogle Maps Directions to Cedar Lake Recreation Area
Official Info (918) 653-2991 (USFS Oklahoma Ranger Dist., Hodgen) USFS Website
Trail Map Flyer (pdf)

[Last revised: 9-2-2017]

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