The water whispers under the oars as the kayaks cruise like sleek fish through Arcadia Lake, located just on the outskirts of Edmond.
Blue herons and white egrets squawk irritably as the kayaks disturb them from their important task of fishing, but the human fisherman and his son wave cheerfully as the watercrafts glide by. Swimmers at Arcadia Lake’s beaches also wave, and in late summer, Edmond’s lake waters seem as close to Heaven as one can get.
With summer almost over, you may have missed your chance to visit the beach, but it’s not too late to enjoy a watersport and outdoor adventure at one of the best hidden treasures in Oklahoma. Arcadia Lake, located on the Deep Fork River, offers water-oriented recreation opportunities in an urban setting.
Who needs to travel hours or days to relax? Oklahomans can take a jaunt right up the road to enjoy a “staycation” that includes picnicking, camping, swimming, water skiing, boating, disc golf, as well as hiking, biking and equestrian trails. A fishing pier and a heated, covered dock is provided year-round for fishing for bluegill, channel catfish, blue catfish and largemouth bass.
Welcome to your last blast of summer!
Arcadia Lake is a youngster as far as lakes go, constructed as a cooperative effort between the City of Edmond and the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1987. The lake has 1,820 surface acres and 26 miles of shoreline.
“You don’t have to drive for hours to get to those big lakes when we have all the same amenities right here, just minutes from the metro,” said Nicole Offutt, administrative supervisor for Arcadia Lake. “There’s literally something for everyone.”
In addition to three swimming beaches, Arcadia also offers full service campgrounds with concrete tables, fire rings and lantern hooks. The park is home to 18 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails, a Frisbee golf course, water sports and more. “We really are a diamond in the rough,” Offutt said.
The price for a staycation at Arcadia is pretty sweet as well. Entrance fees are $6 per car Monday through Thursday and $7 on the weekends. Those with personal watercraft will pay an additional $6 and $7 per watercraft. The city ordinances for personal watercrafts like jet skies have changed in the past year, now permitting the boats access to the entire lake from Monday to Thursday, only restricting use on the busy weekend. “Boating and watercrafts are popular on this lake,” said Offutt. “We see a lot of boating activity, especially on the weekend.”
A Perfect Weekend
If you’re planning a vacation to Arcadia Lake, a perfect weekend starts with picking out the best campsite on Friday afternoon. The wooded areas around the lake offer deep shade from the hot sun, but also easy access to swimming areas, trails and restrooms.
Start out Friday afternoon with a round of Frisbee golf or rent some mountain bikes at the University of Central Oklahoma Outdoor Adventure Recreation Center (OAR) located at the east entrance of the lake on Second Street.
The facility provides rentals of kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards and mountain bikes. While the facility and equipment are free for UCO students, faculty and staff, the public can also rent all equipment for a fair price, and take advantage of a UCO alumni discount. The OAR staff also leads hiking and backpacking trips and the facility is available to rent for large events.
When you rise and shine from your tent early Saturday morning, plan to take a hike along the many trails at the lake. Mornings are the best time for hiking or biking as the late summer days get hotter.
After an invigorating hike, visit the OAR Center to rent kayaks for a trip around the lake. The fishing enthusiasts can rent or bring fishing gear for kayak or canoe fishing in some of the hard-to-reach prime fishing areas.
Those seeking more of a challenge can try stand-up paddle boarding. Cool off from an afternoon of kayaking and fishing by taking a dip in the three swim beaches around the lake. As the sun sets, light up a campfire and cook dinner the outdoorsy, rustic way. Everyone agrees that food tastes better when cooked on an open fire.
Sunday brings a full day of activities before heading home, thanks to Arcadia Lake’s close proximity to Edmond and Oklahoma City. Since you don’t have to spend hours driving home, you’ll have an extra day to repeat all the favorite activities.
“We really do have a little bit of everything, and what we have is close to home,” Offutt said. “You’ll have more time for recreation and spend less gas money to do it.”
For more information on Arcadia Lake activities, visit edmondok.com or call 216-7470. For information on renting equipment and the UCO OAR Center, visit uco.edu/wellness/sr/outdoorrecreation or call 844-4560.