Hiking Arkansas: Kings River Falls

Pavement Ends, Road to Kings River Falls in Arkansas

Finding Kings River Falls

This hike is a little hard to find. When the paved road ends you might think you made a wrong turn, so I wanted to share the directions provided on the Arkansas National Heritage Commission’s website to help you find Kings River Falls. This natural area is worth the dirt road drive.

From the community of Boston on State Highway 16 (between Fallsville and St. Paul), go north on County Road 3175 (dirt) for 2.1 miles; bear right as the road forks onto County Road 3415. Stay on this road for 2.3 miles until you come to a “T” intersection with County Road 3500. Turn left, and go across the creek and park at natural area sign.

Flattening the Curve. Social Distance Hiking.

flattening the curve

We hiked this trail on April 10, 2020. The trail was open, however signage was put up to remind hikers to practice social distancing. We saw a handful of hikers, but everyone was respectful and we felt safe. Some of Arkansas’ most popular hiking trails that were open to the public a couple of weeks ago are closed now because they were getting too crowded. I’d recommend researching potential closures before heading out.

butterfly on Kings River Falls trail

The trail starts out by following along Mitchell Creek. We enjoyed spotting a variety of wildflowers and butterflies.

Wildflowers on Kings River Falls Trail

Soon we crossed over a small metal bridge. The trail begins to follow along side the Kings River.

We stopped several times to admire butterflies and skip rocks on the river.

A cascade flows into the river right before the falls. The distance to Kings River Falls is only a mile. Once we arrived, we found a great spot to enjoy a snack and take in the views. We returned the same way we came, making this a 2 mile round trip adventure.

Our pre-coronavirus plans were to go to Florida over the Easter holiday. A sunny beach vacation would have been nice. However, this family hike was everything my heart needed. We are truly blessed by the natural beauty right here in our home state.

Hiking Arkansas: Elise Falls in the Smith Creek Nature Preserve

Smith Creek Nature Preserve
Signage at trail head

I’m writing this post on an afternoon ‘break’ from my little ones. They are happily playing in their playroom with each other.

How many weeks have we been practicing social-distancing now? I’m starting to lose track. We barely leave our house these days (I’m sure you can relate). When we do, we try to find quiet areas in nature to explore. It’s restorative.

Today, I’m happy to share a recent hike we enjoyed near the Buffalo National River.

smith creek nature preserve

Smith Creek is a tributary of the Buffalo National River. This land is protected by the Nature Conservancy. There are several destinations to explore in the preserve which is located near Boxley, Arkansas. We decided to hike from the main gate to Elise Falls which is .75 miles each way.

The trail begins going downhill. Keep in mind that you have to go back up this hill on the way back, which is a lot harder.

We enjoyed spotting a variety of colorful wildflowers.

Signage points towards Elise Falls. Head left at the junction.

Sections of the trail are narrow and fairly steep, but it was well maintained and easy enough for our preschoolers to hike (mostly) on their own.

Our girls found a nice boulder to rest on to enjoy a snack and water break.

Soon we crossed down into the creek bed. It’s easy to lose the trail at this point. We spotted a waterfall spilling into the pool on our left and headed towards it by crossing over the creek.

Your feet may get wet at this point. Once across the creek, we hiked uphill following the cascades.

This section of the trail looked to be more challenging for our little ones, so my husband went ahead to scope it out.

He arrived at Elise Falls and took a few pictures before heading back.

Elise Falls
Elise Falls

We decided that he would stay back with our youngest who is 3-years-old while I took our 5-year-old up to see the waterfall.

We held hands and took careful steps over mossy rocks and tree roots. The waterfall wasn’t far. This felt like an adventure for our daughter. She loved it!

We headed back along the same trail towards our car. We passed (from a safe social distance) a few other people and pups along the trail, but it wasn’t very busy.

If you are looking for a family-family adventure this spring. We think Elise Falls is a great waterfall hike.

We made it!

Additional resources

I was first intrigued by this hike from a report I read from arkohiker.org. I also found a recent post on lostintheozarks.com and we read some reviews on AllTrails.com. I appreciate the hiking community here in Arkansas. It’s nice to know what we are getting ourselves into when hiking with kids.

more hikes in buffalo national river area

Twin Falls

Lost Valley

What is your favorite spring hike in Northwest Arkansas?