Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk – 1 mi

Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Fort Smith National Historic Site Visitor Center (Barracks – Courthouse – Jail)

I think the prettiest walk in Fort Smith is the River Walk at the Fort Smith National Historic Site.

The Historic Site park, operated by the National Park Service, is on the site of the original military Fort Smith (1817-1824) and the second Fort Smith (1838-1871). The military barracks building of the second Fort was turned into a federal court building used by Judge Isaac C. Parker, sometimes referred to today as the “Hanging Judge,” from 1875 to 1889.

Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Historic Site River Walk along the Arkansas River

The River Walk, a paved walkway, starts at the park’s main (south) entrance. It heads west, first crossing some railroad tracks, then making a left turn near Belle Point, the location of the first Fort Smith. A spur leads to the Belle Point where there is informational signage.

Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Approximate elevation profile based on gps data.

. Fort Smith NHS River Walk Gpx Map

Click here for full-screen trail map.

Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
River Walk

After awhile, the walk curves right to an area below and in front of Belle Point. From here, there is a great view of the Poteau River flowing into the Arkansas River. The walk continues following along the Arkansas River. From this point to the end is the most scenic part of the River Walk.

Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Overlook

On the left, the walk passes by the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Overlook. The Overlook commemorates the area where thousands of Native Americans in the 1830’s were forced to relocate to Indian Territory.

The River Walk eventually comes to an end at Harry E. Kelly Park. This city park features an amphitheater and a stage for public concerts and performances.

Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Site of First Fort Smith on Belle Point
Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Walking path at entrance to Second Fort Smith grounds

Back at the start of the River Walk, near the Visitor Center, it connects to a .2-mile sidewalk loop around the parade grounds of the second Fort Smith. (You can see what it looks like right now via this webcam link.)

The only two original buildings still standing at the Historic Site from the Second Fort Smith are the barracks/courthouse/jail building (now the Visitor Center) and the commissary.

While visiting the grounds, be sure to see the (reconstructed) gallows.

Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Gallows at Fort Smith National Historic Site
Fort Smith National Historic Site: River Walk - 1 mi photo
Fort Smith National Historic Site map from official website

As usual, I have posted some of my photos and a gpx map made from my gps data.

Click here for gpx file download.

River Walk - Fort Smith National Historic Site

LocationFort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas
Length/type0.6 miles (each way)
If you also walk the loop around the large flag at the Fort Smith NHS, that is an extra 0.2 miles.
DirectionsThere is parking at the Fort Smith Historic Site. Or you can park at the other end at the Harry E. Kelley Park.
DifficultyEasy (1 of 5)
ATT Cell Coverage?Yes
Official Info (Links)Website.
Weather/ConditionsLow 90's.
Date Hiked08-27-2010

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