FAYETTEVILLE — The good times roll at Lake Sequoyah on the water and high above it.
There’s fish to be caught year-round at the 389-acre lake on the southeast edge of Fayetteville. Trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding meander on the east and west sides of Lake Sequoyah Park, which takes in 1,400 acres.
The reservoir is a kayaker’s dream, especially on the upstream reaches of Lake Sequoyah. Here water lilies and water lotus blossoms add bright yellow to the watery landscape sprouting from mats of lily pads.
An interesting characteristic about these pads is that they’re water repellent. Splash a bit of water on a lily pad with a paddle blade and watch the liquid bead up as if it were liquid mercury. The whole upstream end of Lake Sequoyah is a mysterious backwater realm. Exploring here is akin to paddling in a southeast Arkansas swamp, minus the alligators, mosquitoes and the six-hour drive.
The city bought the property in 1958 and built the lake for a water supply. Now the city gets its drinking water from Beaver Lake. So do the area’s major cities and small towns. Today, it’s the fresh water supply for some 700,000 people in Northwest Arkansas and beyond, from eastern Oklahoma to Harrison.
Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will find trails to their liking at the Fayetteville city park along 6.5 miles of trail. Shoreline, Island and Spillway trails are on the west side of the lake. These are open to hikers, bikers and horses.
Kingfisher and Rookery trails on the east side of Lake Sequoyah are for feet and bikes. Rookery Trail may be the most fascinating of the two paths. About 1.5 miles into the trek, hikers walk along a rock wall that the city describes as a pioneer wall on trail maps available at the park office by the lake. Some of the heaviest stones are the size of a sofa and gives a hiker pause as to how this wall was ever built. Rookery Trail is 2 miles one way for a 4-mile out and back hike.
For anglers, catfish and largemouth bass bend fishing rods at the lake, said Mike McBride of Winslow. He grew up near the lake and managed the lake office and bait shop for years. It’s located at the east end of the one-lane bridge that crosses the lake.
Stink bait and liver are tops for catching channel catfish, McBride said. Bass pounce buzz baits and other surface lures early in the morning during summer.
Anglers after a mess of crappie will have a tougher row to hoe. These fish seek the deepest water of the old White River channel on the west side of the lake. McBride recommends fishing in summer with jigs 12 feet deep around brush. He likes a 1/16th-ounce crappie jig with a blue body and white tail.
By far the best crappie fishing at Lake Sequoyah is in November and December, he said. Fall and winter are when he catches the largest crappie and plenty of them.
Might as well carry a fishing pole and a hiking staff on a visit to Lake Sequoyah. Paddle and fish by morning, have a picnic lunch then hike in the afternoon.
Day at the lake
In addition to fishing and hiking, Lake Sequoyah is a haven for bird watching. Kingfishers, great blue herons and waterfowl are common. Bald eagles may be seen during winter.
An Arkansas fishing license as well as a daily or annual park fishing permit is required to fish. There is a nominal fee to launch boats, including canoes and kayaks. Power boats must observe a no-wake rule.
Source: Staff report