In 1957, AFC purchased approximately 19,400 acres of abandoned farmland from the USDA. Today, Poison Springs State Forest includes 23,506 acres in western Ouachita and eastern Nevada counties. Poison Springs State Forest got its name from a nearby spring of the same name and is the site of a significant Civil War battle. The Battle of Poison Springs on April 19, 1864, was a convincing victory for the Confederates, forcing the retreat of Union forces north. The forest proved to be an asset to the Confederates and trouble for the Union soldiers who had difficulty maneuvering through the thick pine stands.
AFC manages the State Forest for multiple uses. Poison Springs State Forest is used for demonstration of good forest management practices, timber production, recreation, water quality protection, research and wildlife habitat.
Hunting is one of the major recreational activities at Poison Springs. Each year, more than 350 camping permits are issued to visitors. The State Forest has more than 100 primitive campsites that can be reserved at no charge for up to two weeks at a time. The property is designated as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and visitors must follow all Arkansas Game and Fish Commission hunting and fishing regulations.
Public fishing is available at White Oak Lake, a 2,000-acre man-made Game and Fish Commission lake that adjoins the State Forest. Visitors will also find an equestrian trail and a firing range. The equestrian trail is open June 1 to September 30 and February 1 through March 31. The firing range is open year-round. All services are free to the public.
Camping and Use Regulations
- Camping is by permit only. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis for a two-week period beginning at 8 a.m. July 15, or the first business day after if July 15 falls on a weekend. Visitors are encouraged to reserve in advance to ensure availability.
- Vehicular travel is restricted to existing trails and roads.
- No permanent or semi-permanent structures (e.g. deer stands, lean-tos) are authorized. Temporary facilities erected for the duration of the two-week permit are allowed.
- No tree may be severed, damaged or destroyed.
- Campfires must be kept under control.
- Campsites must be occupied within 24 hours of the permit date.
- Camping debris must be removed when leaving the campsite.
- Posting of Poison springs property is prohibited.
- Violation of the following general restrictions may result in revocation of the camping permit:
Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Use of illegal drugs.
Public endangerment with firearm
- The permit holder is subject to all applicable state and federal game and firearm laws and regulations.
- Equestrian travel is restricted to existing trails and roads.
- Organized events similar to trail rides and horse or mule riding for pleasure are prohibited during the months of October-January, April and May. Exceptions:
- Legal hunting activities may use horses and mules during specified hunting seasons.
Horses and mules are allowed at night during furbearing season.
- Equestrian Use permits are required for organized events of more than 10 horses or mules per party. Permits are available from the Poison Springs State Forest Office and must be requested 14 days before the event.
- Organized events may be restricted to designated campsites. Otherwise horses and mules are allowed at all campsites.
- Organized events may be required to provide portable restroom facilities.
- Horses or mules in camping areas shall be tied to trailers or highline using tree saver straps.
- Horses and mules will not be allowed to damage trees or other woody vegetation.
- At organized event or campsites, soil disturbance must be restored, manure must be scattered, and excess feed, hay and any trash must be removed.
- Equestrian Trail Map - PDF
For more information or to reserve a campsite, call the Poison Springs State Forest office at (870) 836-5882 or email State Forest Manager Daniel Browne at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is located at 2501 Maul Road in northwest Camden, just off State Highway 24, one mile north of the Highway 278 and Highway 24 junction.