Tucked away in the urban headwaters of the Illinois River Watershed in the middle of Cave Springs, Arkansas is a six-acre lake, nestled in 24 acres of woods and fed by a fresh spring. Today, most people know the Lake at Cave Springs only from the glimpse through a chain link fence that they drive past on their morning commute, or in their rush to the airport.

 

Morning Sun on the Lake at Cave Springs

But there is much more to the lake than the partial view from Highway 112 can reveal. The Lake at Cave Springs has both a rich history and an inspired future.

Water wheel and water flow

The Lake at Cave Springs held an important place in the history of this community and region. In years past, it housed a fish hatchery and the springs were the source of drinking water for the area. The cool springs provided a retreat from the summer heat.

It was place where families spent the day together as families. Teaching their kids to fish and swim, spreading out a picnic supper, taking a stroll, and catching up with the neighbors.

Fish runs

The Illinois River Watershed Partnership and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have a master plan to restore the lake to be a place where families and nature lovers can gather once again. To learn about with the wildlife, land and waters of our watershed. To fish and to canoe. To explore and to relax.

The Lake at Cave Springs

The transformation of the lake will begin over the coming months. Trails and nature walks will educate explorers about the natural wildlife and vegetation. Award winning architects will be constructing outdoor learning facilities, trails, a fishing boardwalk and pier.

Removal of the trout raceways to rehabilitate and restore that portion of the lake and the stream feeding the lake to a more natural state will utilize Low Impact Development (LID) methods and serve as a regional watershed education and demonstration project.

Experiential activities will engage participants in techniques to preserve, protect and restore this beautiful watershed in which we live.

Sun on the lake at Cave Springs

In a few weeks, the restoration process will begin with the draining of the lake. And in upcoming months, you’ll see the lake of the future unfolding. While we begin to see the vision for the lake take shape, we will also take a look at its rich history, though a series of “Throwback Thursdays” posts.

View of lake from Hwy 112

But just for now — in these few images — we can enjoy the lake as we know it today and appreciate the hidden beauty amongst us.