Take a trip to Cove Lake A bright spot for community during pandemic

Jamie Varnell
Paris Express Staff
The bath house at Cove Lake as seen from the trail on the north shore of the lake.

Cove Lake remains a relaxing summer getaway amid the pandemic. The 162-acre lake sits comfortably on the side of Mount Magazine and is ideally located just 9 miles up Highway 309 from Paris. As summer's heat has set in, the swimming area at the lake continues to cool off swimmers of all ages. While the pandemic has brought much change, including at the park, there is still plenty to experience. Since moving to the current phase, the day-use has not been limited and opportunities abound. The swimming area and concessions are open to the public. They also have mini-golf, kayak, and paddleboat rentals, all of which will be open until labor day.

Park representatives stress the importance of social distancing while swimming and using the amenities, but said people have been doing well at implementing the mandated precautions. A barrier was even installed in the concession area to provide extra protection for guests and staff alike.

The lake has boat ramps to allow fishers access to the lake. Shore fishing is accessible from almost any point on the lake, including near the highway, where the spillway heads down the mountain. The lake is home to catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie and perch. It is stocked every other year, although a small number of catfish are stocked annually and just prior to a yearly kids' fishing derby hosted at the lake.

The lake level varies with the rainfall, but often you can enjoy the spillway area from the parking lot at the trailhead on the north side of the lake. The trail is in very good condition on the north side, going back for almost a mile and a half to the first bridge built on the path. From this portion of the trail, you get great views of the lodge and the beach from across the lake. After the first bridge, the trail becomes more rugged and has more elevation change, but is still passable for most. If taken from the north shore trailhead, the path will end with a rigorous set of switchbacks in a densely forested area as it empties into the park.

The camping area of the park is open, and reservations can be made online for several sites. The park has 36 campsites, 18 of which are available to book online at recreation.gov. The cabins are currently available for rental on weekends and require a two-day minimum. Also available for rent is the pavilion for families that may choose for a larger covered area. There are also 24 picnic areas for families to use during the day.

The Magazine Ranger District will always have the latest information on the lake and opportunities for your family. They are available at 479-963-3076.