SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — It’s a mid-November day and there’s only one person fishing on a lake that was once one of the most popular camping destinations in Louisiana.
“I don’t understand why no one comes here anymore,” Wes Harris, the Claiborne Parish Library Historian, said as he took pictures with his mobile phone. “It’s beautiful.”
Harris stood on the shore of Corney Lake, a 2300-acre reservoir located at the most northern point of Kisatchie National Forest and sighed.
Harris is a parish historian now, but once upon a time, he ran a nearby state park. He knows how much effort it takes to keep a park in working order, and as he gave a tour of Corney Lake he repeated the words often: “I don’t understand.”
“People just don’t know about this place,” he said.
It’s a difficult concept to understand, too. The old recreational area was once one of the most popular parks in Louisiana, attracting thousands of visitors every year. But now the place seems more like a wildlife preserve with a few neatly-trimmed and mostly empty camping sites.
It’s almost eerie, to be honest. But if you’re one of those people who love to get away from the city and truly gaze at the stars without hearing even a hint of human progress in the background, you’ll love this almost-forgotten dot on the map.
The story of Corney Lake
The story of Corney Lake began in the 1930s, when the Federal Government dammed up Corney Bayou and a 2,350-acre reservoir was formed in what is now the most northern point in Kisatchie National Forest. Corney Bayou’s headwaters are located slightly above Warnock Springs in Columbia County, Arkansas, and by the time “Bayou Salutas” (the Spanish name of Corney Bayou) reaches northern Louisiana there is significant evidence of the Native Americans who lived here before Europeans arrived.
Today, Corney Lake is officially part of the Kisatchie National Forest. It’s located near Summerfield, La., in Claiborne Parish. Nearby towns include Junction City, La./Ark., Cane Ridge, and Sheriff Pat Garrett’s childhood homeplace.
The region was once home to the last stop for steamboats (such as the St. Francis Belle) in any tributary to the Ouachita River in Louisiana.
Corney Lake Recreation Area is a great place to fish, and facilities on both sides of the lake leave visitors with lots of options.
Harris said he believes Corney Lake is the best-kept secret in all of Louisiana’s park systems. It’s a shame, too, because Corney Lake is one of the most secluded and beautiful in all of Louisiana.
For more information about the Recreational Area, call (318) 927-2061.