Gillham Lake is known as the "Bright Spot on the Cossatot." Located in southwestern Arkansas, the lake is a dammed portion of the Cossatot River. The Gillham Lake project was approved to control flooding, the area’s water supply, and wildlife conservation efforts. The dam was completed in 1975. While recreation wasn’t in the initial plans for the lake project, it was later included. Today, the 1,370-acre lake attracts many for boating, hunting, and fishing.
Once set up at your campsite, head down the two-mile Coon Creek Walking Trail to take in the scenic lake views and colorful trees. Take your fishing pole out onto the lake or the fishing pier to catch bass, catfish, and even walleye. Drive or boat to remote areas of the park to hunt deer or turkey. Tired after a long day of driving? Relax over by the sandy swim beach at Big Coon Creek and dip your toes into the refreshing lake water.
There are three campground options on Gillham Lake. Big Coon Creek, Little Coon Creek, and Cossatot Reefs have a combined total of 73 campsites. Each park offers its own amenities from the swim beach at Big Coon Creek to the fishing pier at Little Coon Creek to the large picnic shelter at Cossatot Reefs. Reservations can be made in advance of your visit. Peak season runs from March to October.
Gillham Lake is just six miles from Gillham, Arkansas and can be accessed from County Road. The town of Gillham has food, services, and supplies for fishing and camping. A few miles separate the different parks on lake. Visitors may find the need to drive to amenities and activities at other parks such as the swim beach or boat ramp.
The roads in the public use areas, like the parks and campgrounds, are paved and should be no trouble to navigate with your RV. If planning to hunt, you’ll find that the remote roads are unpaved and may be quite rough.
Open year-round, Cossatot Reefs has 31 campsites. The campground is located on the Cossatot River. The campsites are shaded by trees, providing shelter from the hot summer sun and privacy from neighboring campers.
The campsites are paved and most can easily accommodate large rigs. Drinking water, a picnic shelter, and restrooms with showers are a couple of the amenities at Cossatot Reefs. Reservations can be made prior to visiting.
Little Coon Creek campground has 10 campsites with electric and water hookups. Many of the campsites can accommodate large RVs and trailers. Parking shouldn’t be an issue as the sites are paved and mostly level. The campground is open year-round.
Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill for cooking. Additional amenities include restrooms with showers, playground, boat ramp, fishing pier, and a dump station.
Big Coon Creek Campground has 32 campsites, some of which have full hookups. The remaining campsites have partial hookups with electric and water. Several campsites are lakefront where guests can enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the Gillham Lake. For those in campsites further from the shore, the lake is just a short walk away!
RVs and travel trailers of any size can be accommodated at this campground, with the longest parking pad extending to 130 feet. Big Coon Creek amenities include a boat ramp, swimming beach, playground, and showers.
Coon Creek Walking Trail is about two miles long. As you walk through the rolling hills, enjoy the scenic views of the lake. The trail is most popular during the spring and fall. Blooming dogwood and redbud trees during the spring and vibrant autumn leaves during the fall make for beautiful photo opportunities.
If planning to fish during your visit to Gillham Lake, it’s unlikely you’ll leave disappointed. The lake has many crappie, catfish, bass, sunfish, and walleye beneath its surface. Bring a chair and cast a line from the fishing pier. If you brought a boat for your visit, use one of the boat ramps to find a quiet and remote spot further out on the lake.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas of Gillham Lake Project land. Hunters come to the area for turkey, rabbits, deer, and many other types of wildlife. Since hunting is allowed in mostly undeveloped areas, roads may be rough. Take extra caution while driving. Some hunting areas are far more remote and can only be accessed by boat. Check regulations and limits prior to hunting at Gillham Lake.
Picnic areas are located at each of the three campgrounds. Enjoy scenic views of the lake over lunch or while taking a break from other activities. Cossatot Reefs has a picnic shelter that can accommodate large groups for events like reunions or birthdays. The picnic shelter has a grill, electricity, and is lighted. The shelter is reservable.
Gillham Lake is great for swimming. Big Coon Creek has one designated swimming area with a sandy beach. Safely swim and play in a roped-off area, away from boats that may be passing nearby. There are picnic tables near the beach. Bring along your cooler with some refreshing drinks and a picnic lunch to make a day of it.
Gillham Lake has a surface area of 1,370 acres providing plenty of space for boating and other water sports. There are five boat ramps on Gillham Lake, so you’ll have no trouble finding boat access. Canoeing and kayaking are popular on the Cossatot River. You’ll find spots such as Mize Cross and Ladd Bridge for short trips or for a long canoe trip, start at the bottom of the dam and paddle to U.S. Highway 71. Ensure you have a life jacket on board for each occupant of your boat.