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John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake

The John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake is a well-kept Internet secret, but Fort Smith and Van Buren residents are very familiar with this Arkansas reservoir. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created this lake along the Arkansas River with the James W. Trimble Lock and Dam, which is located east of Fort Smith. The lake extends 26 miles along the river from the dam to the Oklahoma state line. Half of the river is located in Arkansas and half is located in Oklahoma. As part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, this lake offers provides 5,700 acres of water for recreation, soil conservation, and fish and wildlife management very near urban areas.

The Corps' Little Rock District manages only that portion of the lake that is in Crawford and Sebastian Counties. The Corps provides over 680 acres for public access along the Arkansas portion of this lake, offering parks, boat ramps, and recreational facilities.


Fish native to the Arkansas River, including catfish, bream, crappie, and largemouth and white bass, are in abundance in this fertile lake. Additionally, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stock this lake with striped sea bass and sauger. You can enjoy fishing from banks or from a boat. The banks vary in terrain from urban developments to steep bluffs, open fields, and hardwood timberland.


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    John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake Arkansas Coordinates:
35.2055N -94.1752W
Map It:
Lake Type:
Surface Area:
5,700 acres
Maximum Depth:
15+ ft
392 ft
Normal Water Clarity:
3 ft
Major City:
Fort Smith
Fort Smith


Four park sites and two fishing access areas are included in the public land holdings along John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake. Boaters can use the Fort Smith Park boat ramp on the Fort Smith side of the river, or the ramp at Springhill Park, located on the Fort Smith side of the river below the dam near the Dam Site South Public Use Area. Both ramp sites also have picnic areas and playgrounds.


If you plan to fish or boat on John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake and you also want to camp, the closest public access campground is at Springhill Park near the dam on the Fort Smith side of the lake. Lake Fort Smith State Park is located on Lake Fort Smith, about 45 minutes from Fort Smith via I-540. Other private campgrounds also are available near Hammerschmidt Lake, and Fort Smith and Van Buren both offer a wide range of lodging venues for visitors.

Review the Lake Resource Guide for additional lodging.


John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake in Arkansas forms a border between Crawford and Sebastian Counties near the Arkansas-Oklahoma state line. The lake, which is part of the Arkansas River, is situated between Fort Smith and Van Buren.

Fun times at John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake  John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake

John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake  John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake

Average Temperatures Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High  58 Avg. High  56 Avg. High  65 Avg. High  74 Avg. High  81 Avg. High  88 Avg. High  93 Avg. High  93 Avg. High  85 Avg. High  75 Avg. High  63 Avg. High  51
Avg. Low  29 Avg. Low  33 Avg. Low  41 Avg. Low  50 Avg. Low  59 Avg. Low  68 Avg. Low  72 Avg. Low  71 Avg. Low  62 Avg. Low  51 Avg. Low  40 Avg. Low  31