BOXLEY — The Boxley Valley in Newton County is full of entertainment venues for the outdoor enthusiast.
One of the areas that offer multi paths for hiking is that of Smith Creek Preserve.
The Preserve is a 1,316 acres section of Newton County wilderness that covers a valley in the hardwood forest outside of Boxley.
Being established in 2005, the Preserve prides itself on saving the area from being developed. The development of the land would hurt the habitat that is inside the area.
Arkansas’ largest Indiana bat population lives inside the Preserve.
There are four main paths inside the Preserve and several unofficial paths that have been made by visitors over the years.
One of the paths lead to the popular Elise Waterfall. Elise is a 31-foot waterfall that features a switchback about 10-foot into the fall.
The upper and lower trails an be assessed from that area.
A path called the Main Trail leads visitors to highlights of the area.
About a mile into the hike is an area with several sink holes. These holes are perfect half sphere indentions into the ground. The sink holes on this route are not the only ones in the Preserve. Across Smith Creek near Elise Falls there is another sink hole.
After passing the bridge that is located at the sink holes, there is a cave on the right side of the path. The small entrance appears to lead to an underground area for exploration. The cool breeze is refreshing on a hot day and combined nicely with the sound of water dripping.
There is an intersection of creek beds at the 1.25 mark of the visit. The area had a small branch coming down the mountain and flowing into Smith Creek.
Smith Creek is a dry a lot of the year. However, the upper part of the creek has water that flows from a spring that is located up the mountain.
There is a huge elevation change along this hike. The main entrance, which is located on Highway 21, is 3.6 miles south of the junction of Highway 43 and Highway 21. The elevation at the entrance is just over 1,600 feet.
The lowest area of the hike is around 1320 feet.
At the beginning of the trail, the first .17 of a mile is downhill. When arriving at the bottom of the hill, there will be an intersection that can lead visitors to the Elise Waterfall. The trip to the waterfall is to the left. The main trail goes to the right.
After a .5 mile walk, the path goes downhill once again. This descent is only .10 mile. It levels once again before the .15 drop that leads to the sinkholes.
Walking levels off again for the next third of a mile. Then there is a steady 250 foot climb to the spring that is at the end of the Preserve.
The hike is full of animals. Herd of deer, squirrels and rabbits were spotted on the visit. This hike offers visitors a chance to see nature first hand.