Smith Creek Trail is a 5.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Ponca, Arkansas that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length5.7 miElevation gain797 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashKid friendlyCampingHikingNature tripsWalkingBird watchingRunningCaveForestRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersBlowdownRocky
Description
Waypoints (1)
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Contact
Getting There

The trail down to Smith Creek entails about a 500 foot descent in the one mile journey from the parking area by Hwy 21. Trails along the creek are generally level. Smith Creek has many large boulders, cascades, and reflecting pools. It is also noted for its outstanding spring wild flower bloom that is on par with the famous bloom at Lost Valley. Wildflower fans will want to visit both destinations. QuiVaLa Elise Falls (side trail as you head down the hill from the trailhead) is one of many side trips you can take as you explore the area.

small parking area at red entry gate to the preserve.

Brenda Luper at 479-973-9110

The trailhead is just off of Highway 21, south of the Boxley Valley. Look for driveway leading back to a red gate on the left (east) side of the road. The gate sits about 100 feet back from the road. The entrance is exactly three miles from (and to the south of) the Boxley Baptist Church. This is 3.2 miles north of the Mossville Church. There should be a sign there for the Smith Creek Nature Preserve.

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Reviews (94)
Photos (413)
Activities (54)
Completed (282)
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Tina Besse
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 3, 2021
HikingGreat!

Well marked with a great map at trailhead. Beautiful HUGE moss covered boulders with tons of pools and cascades.

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Melody Butler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 22, 2021
HikingGreat!

We hiked this trail this morning and had it to ourselves for the majority of the time. It was beautiful! We hiked down from the parking area then turned left towards Elise falls. This is definitely one to see. It’s a little bit of a challenge to get to but absolutely stunning!  after seeing the falls we continued to follow the yellow trail. When we got to the intersection we chose to follow the lower trail. It is the one you want to take. This trail will take you right back down by the creek to see some beautiful boulders and cascades through the canyon. The large moss covered rocks are beautiful. Eventually the lower trail meets the upper trail again and then it comes around to the creek. You will have to cross the creek to get across to the other side where the picnic table and bridge is at. For this trip we invested in a pair of wet socks. They are made of neoprene and I have to say it was a game changer when it comes to crossing the creek. We wore them to cross the creek and amazingly we didn’t feel the cold from the water at all. It was a super easy cross. After we crossed the foot bridge We explored the Harvey Williams nature trail. Do not miss this part of the trail! Excluding the Elise waterfalls this is the beat part of the whole trail. If you take a picture of the map of the sign before you start the hike, everything on this trail is super easy to find.There are trail markers that lead you to each point of interest. The giant boulders are stunning. Make sure that you see the waterfall at the big gem. I really haven’t heard much about the preserve before today. But this is definitely a place I would want to come back to! I highly recommend it especially during wet weather season. 

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Jessi Thomas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 21, 2021
HikingGreat!Muddy

Nice trail and a few different skill level options. The trail from the parking area to the creek is wide and seems to be a road for authorized vehicles. Very easy trek down. When headed south after meeting the creek the wide trail continues crossing a foot bridge and a Picnic table. The creek has many cascades, reflecting pools and large boulders to explore. The trail is boggy in some areas but nothing too concerning for the terrain. We didn’t make the creek crossing due too limited options of crossing without getting wet feet so we back tracked the way we came down. We did hike the Elise Falls as well. I would consider 95% of this trail as easy the moderate comes from the quick elevation gain which is not a problem during your descend. Although the ascend was a little cardio workout for me and my senior dog. The golden rule to remember is what goes down must come up! We logged 6.2 miles for this trail system.

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Edna Stanley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 6, 2021
Hiking

I got there early on a Saturday and had the trail all to myself for a couple of hours. Very pretty quiet walk. I walked down hill to the waterfall, looped around on lower trail then walked uphill to finish the loop. It was a pretty hike and my dog rather enjoyed it too.

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Joshua Swait
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Backpacking

It was okay. Pretty difficult for a moderate.

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Brandi-Lynn Whillock
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 25, 2021
Hiking

Great trail. The views were more than I was expecting for a winter hike! My dog and I hiked and jogged the main trail and then the lower trail to the falls. With plenty of snack, potty, and picture breaks we finished in about two hours!

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Donna Rackley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 22, 2021
Hiking

Very pretty! I got a map at main gate and hiked to the boulders. Not much water flowing but still beautiful. I didn’t see anyone else on the trail. It was steep coming out! Look forward to going back in the spring.

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Megan Broemmer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 18, 2021
Hiking

Moderate hike unless you are able to get off the trail to explore the sites along the way. Really great hike!

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Matthew Mason
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 20, 2020
HikingMuddyOver grown

My wife and I parked at the Smith Creek Preserve trail head, right off Route 21. Two cars in the parking area on a Sunday morning. Planned on doing the loop towards Elise Falls. Went past the gate down a steep decline. Took a left at the fork toward Elise Falls. Nicely marked trail at first and easily followed down to the creek. The trail to Elise Falls from there was poorly marked. Skipped it (maybe next time) checked out the creek and than followed the main trail North to a fork marked Upper or Lower Trail. Took the Upper Trail. Poorly marked very lightly traveled saw maybe two tracks and zero markers. I followed the trail which went up for a few tenths, plateaued and eventually led down to another section of the creek. Wet crossing than back on the main nature trail. Decided to follow the nature trail up creek about a mile past the picnic table and was glad I did. That part is up and back, Sink holes, cascades, water falls, nice blue colored pools and I saw a white tail deer. I retraced my steps back to the picnic table than followed the main trail back to the trail head parking area. Garmin clocked it at 5.1 miles. I agree with the trail being moderate, a few short lived steep inclines maybe five otherwise fairly flat where wet feet is a probability .

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Nicole Hemingway
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 7, 2020
Hiking

Loved the trail past the bridge and picnic table that ended at the spring. Beautiful huge moss covered boulders with small falls and cascades. The sinkhole was cool too. Elise Falls was pretty but not flowing much today.

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Les Lyons
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 7, 2020
HikingGreat!

I Great trail and hardly saw very few people even though several cars in the parking area. Do get a map at the head of the trail as you will need it to find the loop trail which is near the picnic table.

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Pam Ungashick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 20, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Park by the gate and follow decline to the trail fork. We went right and for miles you’re on a nature trail. Was sloping off and on but generally easy. Beautiful autumn walk with our dog.

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Erin Creighton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 4, 2020
HikingMuddyOver grown

Great hike in the fall. The upper trail was a bit overgrown and not super well marked but still doable and enjoyable. Convenient maps at the trailhead.

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Christy Faught
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 2, 2020
Hiking

We hiked this today 11-1-20 and it was nice. The leaves were pretty in spots and there was water flowing. The trail was a little muddy in spots. Not overgrown anywhere right now but a lot of leaves on the trail. It was nice that they have copies of maps you can get at the trailhead so you don’t keep having to get your phone out. It is a really pretty hike.

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Scott Fergel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 3, 2020
Hiking

The parking lot was almost full yet we only ran into one group while hiking. The creek was bone dry, which we expected due to the lack of rain in some time, but we still enjoyed the various rock formations. Overall we found the trail pretty easy though the lower trail section had some short, steep climbs. It’s also steep coming from the Elise Falls section back to the parking lot so be prepared. Can’t wait to come back after the creek is flowing!

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Jessica Biswell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 7, 2020
Nature tripsGreat!Rocky

Very pretty and fairly easy footing. The water on this hike was beautiful.

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Vance Jarrett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 22, 2020
Hiking

This trail might be pretty in the wet season, but in August there was nothing to see.

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Marianne Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 20, 2020

I had this place all to myself. Started with Elise Falls (dry) then took the Lower Trail, and down to the springs then back up to the start. Lower Trail is overgrown but never lost the trail. Not a lot water flow in the upper area but more than I expected for August. Nice variation in terrain but nothing too difficult. Would definitely do again.

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Tim Oster
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 25, 2020
HikingGreat!

My wife and I hiked this trail yesterday, and we loved it. There was just a small amount of water running, so no problems with wet feet anywhere along the trail, and we had the unique and thrilling experience of seeing two deer along the way. There were a couple pf sections where it was just a bit overgrown, but we loved the hike!

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Cory Leister
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 10, 2020
Hiking

step trail up and down good workout especially carrying kids water was low so no real waterfall experience but overall all enjoyable

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Crystal Scheffler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 29, 2020
Hiking

Hiked with a friend and absolutely LOVED this trail! I’ve hiked dozens around Arkansas and this was a favorite. If you like to play and explore in creeks, this place was an absolute playground. We spent 4 hours exploring and did everything but the upper trail. The falls were a BEAUTIFUL surprise. Well worth the effort to get to it. It was quite overgrown on a lot of the trail, very muddy after a very rainy month, and challenging climbs, but very very enjoyable overall

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Ella Vincent
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 21, 2020
Hiking

This trail is not hard at all!!! It is mostly level and so beautiful. You will definitely need waterproof shoes—you hit the river multiple times. This was all river and woods scenery, tons of wildflowers and some butterflies, we even saw a deer drinking out of the river. GREAT place to stop and eat lunch at the end of it, when you hit the Twin Falls.

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Katrena King
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 18, 2020
HikingMuddy

This trail was pretty muddy and just slightly overgrown in areas. My eleven year old and I wore sneakers then switched to water shoes which actually worked much better for the mud. My husband wore sandals. It was a beautiful trail but definitely steep in some places. The kiddo was pretty tuckered out afterwards. Didn’t see any people until we came back off of the trail, so it was a nice lonely hike with my family.

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Cecil Brown
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 27, 2020
HikingMuddy

I really liked this trail. It was quite muddy, but it rained a couple days ago so to be expected. On the good side because of the rain, we were able to see a beautiful waterfall! You just have to be brave enough to cross a few rocks. The out & back trail is awesome as well. The hike up from the falls is definitely going to get your heart rate up so have your water ready.

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Mitchell Sutton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 25, 2020
Hiking

Good trail with some cool waterfalls and streams. There was a thunderstorm last night so it was pretty muddy is spots (to be expected), but it has the water moving pretty well. We’d heard the upper trail was overgrown so much it was like walking through a jungle, so we did the lower trail. It was overgrown in parts, but not terrible. There aren’t many blazes so good to have gps and a map. I think we still ended up getting off the trail and walked along the creek a ways by mistake, but if we were off trail we weren’t the only ones.

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