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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.

Distance: 5.7 miles Elevation Gain: 797 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly



nature trips


bird watching







wild flowers



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.

1 day ago

Amazingly beautiful! The creek, waterfalls, rock formations are just beautiful. Flowers blooming everywhere. It is a challenging trail in some places, but well worth the effort.

1 month ago

Very scenic. Watch your step!

2 months ago

Great time on this trail. Water in the creeks and mud in places. Beautiful day and was very peaceful. Love this area and this time of year!

2 months ago

Loved this trail. Go when the water is flowing and you will be rewarded with a stunning collection of cascades, falls, chutes, and water music. The Harvey Williams Nature trail is really something special. The rest of the loop follows Smith creek and is a basic walk in the woods. Qui Va la Elise Falls is a really nice side trail into a gorgeous mossy canyon. Watch your step on the slippery rocks.

3 months ago

Hiked on 1/5. We did not complete upper loop and only hiked along creek due to time. Will come back to hike the rest The creek has abundant chances to explore. Trail was not very well marked to show the points of interest that are called out at the trailhead. Our kids really enjoyed hiking around and exploring the creek bed.

4 months ago

There are several side trails and exploring opportunities throughout the Smith Creek Nature Preserve including QuiVala Elise Falls just over a mile from the Smith Creek Trailhead. We found the trail Smith Creek Trail to be well maintained and fairly easy outside of the Upper Trail which was overgrown (watch for the thorns) but still enjoyable. We found a hidden treasure, off the trail here that made trekking through the brush completely worth it! Off the main loop is an out and back trail, The Harvey Williams Nature Trail. We spent most of our time in this area. The creek is beautiful with large rocks and miniature water falls throughout. At the end of the trail is a large spring and the water was rolling! (Two days after a heavy rain). We ventured past the spring and explored the bluffs and heard several Elk bugles all around us. We were disappointed that we didn’t see any elk but several whitetails crossed the main trail ahead of us. Definitely recommend this trail! Will be going back!

10 months ago

Lots of water flowing!! Couldn’t get to the Falls! I will come again!

10 months ago

Nice trail, the creek was great and wonderful for our dog to play in! However, the trail was completely swarmed with bugs and mosquitos - wear bug spray for sure. The trailhead sneaks up on you from the main road so be on the lookout. Descent uphill hike back up to the main gate.

11 months ago

Hiked the trail on Saturday, April 20, 2019. The trailhead is easy to get to and it was not crowded. The creek was running strong. Dogwoods, red buds and numerous wildflower species were blooming. We found a lovely spot along the creek for lunch. Overall, this was just a really fun trail. There are some easy sections and some hills and rocks, so a nice variety of terrain and some gorgeous scenery. There were several water crossings and some sections that were muddy still from the rains and run-offs, but not impassable. We took the upper loop and found it to be primitive, but enjoyable. This has become one of my favorite hikes in the area.

Sun Feb 03 2019

We loved the trail!! The waterfall was beautiful!!! We went off trail for lunch by the river. We went February 2, 2019. The Lower trail was covered in down trees and it’s kinda overgrown, but other than that it was gorgeous!! It has a nice mixture of flat ground as well as hills. We will be doing this one again for sure.

Wed Sep 05 2018

Elise falls is great when flowing. The Lower and Upper (not shown) trail loops are very overgrown and hard to follow in some places. I suggest going when water is flowing and skipping those loops.

Mon Sep 03 2018

Really, really awful experience. There’s no water, the trail is poorly marked and VERY overgrown. The creek is bone dry. And the worst part? Ticks. I went with my friend and our three dogs and we’ve battled probably 1000+ of those tiny seed ticks. Had to gut my apartment with tick killer. This is despite the ample amount of bug spray and flea & tick preventative on the dogs. Spent close to $100 dollars trying to get rid of all the ticks. Would not recommend, especially this time of year.

Thu Jul 12 2018

Do not go clockwise on the trail. you need to go counterclockwise or stay to the right because if you follow the sign left, the trail starts off kind of clear but about a mile into it it gets very very thick and is not well worn at all. The trail gets thick and difficult to follow and there are still trees down blocking the path that you have to go through under or over. Overall, it was an okay hike and I think it will be better in the fall especially after a heavy rain.

Thu Jul 12 2018

Was really excited for this trail. Left early morning from Kansas to come to this trail and we walked it for a good 45 minutes and realized there is no water at all... nothing like the pictures show. I was really disappointed.

Sun Apr 08 2018

The creek and falls are very beautiful. The fallen trees have been cleared from the trail, and were a sight to see themselves. We enjoyed exploring the falls and climbing on the boulders. Parts of the trail, especially near the creek at the picnic table, are not clearly marked. We were concerned we lost the trail at one point but we walked along the creek until we found the picnic table. The bridge only crossed a side creek, not the main creek. The creek was hard to cross to get to the bridge for my grandfather, who is physically fit but has bad eyesight.

Sun Apr 01 2018

Did the basic loop due to time constraints. Leave yourself half a day if you want to see it all. Quiet and beautiful trail with lots of scenery. Tip. Do the loop clockwise. It makes the climb back up easier

Mon Jan 01 2018

We were skeptical about this hike after hearing about all of the tree damage. However, they have cleared out the trees on the main trail down to the bridge/picnic table. Seeing the damage the tornado did to those trees was a sight to see in itself. Very early on in the hike there is an opportunity to take a left off the main path and go hike down to Elise Falls. This was the best part of the hike for us, although it was pretty steep. Once you get down to the creek bed, keep following it down until you see a tee with an arrow sign on it, which directs you up a smaller creek. At the end of that creek is the fall. It was beautiful, even without water.

Sun Jul 02 2017

The low trail has been obliterated by fallen trees. Not much to see. No waterfall

Fri Jun 23 2017

good hike ,but there are a lot of trees damage on the trail so you have to climb over and go around the trees

Sat Apr 15 2017

Just FYI lots of storm damage on the Lower Trail made it difficult to navigate. Other than that a wonderful hike and very scenic along the creek.

Fri Apr 14 2017

Fun and scenic trail. Lots of huge boulders small pools and waterfalls. I got a little lost not paying attention and missed the loop to the waterfall and kept following the creek for a few miles. Just followed the creek back to the trail no problem. The trail isn't marked with trail markers but there are markers for specific sights along the trail, which are also marked on the map at the trailhead. The trail is also very wide in most parts. Despite not even making it to the waterfall I thought this was a cool hike that would be pretty easy for anyone. Will definitely make another trip here.

Mon Apr 10 2017

This is one of my new favorite trail! It was challenging at times due to the recent storm damage but very scenic & definitely worth the trek!

Tue Mar 21 2017

This is an easy and very well maintained trail. Really great for adventurous children of almost all ages and the hike out is a great challenge for any age. The huge boulders in the creek are beautiful. I am sure this place is absolutely beautiful in fall and late spring. This trail is an overlooked little gem! We will definitely be going back!

Wed Jan 25 2017

Wow. Amazing area. Elise falls wasn't running, but I wasn't expecting more than a trickle. Smith Creek, however, is flowing, and all of the nicest spots here were in their full glory on a clear, sunny day. This is a great family spot, and it offers a good experience for all types of hikers. Those averse to insects, narrow/obscure trails, and inclines can stick to the main trail (or just stay indoors already) - though the beginning, right from the trailhead is a doozy - those who are a little more intrepid will enjoy hiking the Upper or Lower trails. All should continue on the trail past the picnic table. That's where it gets good!

Sun Nov 06 2016

beautiful fall hike. If you love beautiful trees and rocky rivers surrounded by high cliffs then the main trail and the spring trail are for you. If you don't enjoy those things then there is something wrong with you. Seek help. The afore mentioned trails are very wide (think roads) and all the points of interest are marked with little arrows. The high road trail and the trail to the water fall are not as wide and a bit rough in spots but they are well marked and surrounded by great scenery. The waterfall wasn't flowing but it was pretty anyway.

Mon Oct 24 2016

Did this trail yesterday. Disappointed no falls no water at all maybe bad time of year but what was the most disappointing is the trails are poorly make and you will get lost if you don't stay on the main trail. Ran into other people that were also lost and they had a GPS that said we were on the trail but there was not trail at all. Had to hike up the side of a hill through the woods to relocate trail.

Tue May 10 2016

Amazing hike. Took the wife and kids and everyone loved it. We turned the 3.6 mile route into 7.5 miles because we found so many amazing things to see. Needs to be on your list.

Sat Apr 09 2016

Beautiful and not crowded like so many others in this area.

Sun Mar 06 2016

This was a very beautiful trail. I have never heard of it until i found it on this site and i must say its a hidden gem in the Ponca area. we took an infant, two, six and eight year olds and they did fine. A little steep on the way out but power through it. Beautiful boulders, creek, waterfalls. 5 star for sure

Sun Jun 07 2015

This is a great valley to explore with waterfalls, neat rock formations, sinking creek, bouldering as you make your way upstream, old double track trails that lace the area. Very picturesque.

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