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Running adjacent to the Arkansas River, the Rice Carden Walking Trail provides a pleasant out-and-back trip of just over 6 miles in the community of Fort Smith. You will have views of the river as you travel along the pathway through a quiet, wooded area; look for deer among the trees.
A small parking lot is available mid-trail off Riverfront Drive/Clayton Expressway (SR 255).
Nice, fairly flat trail along the levee built to contain the Arkansas River when it gets too high. Lots of room to practice moving those feet in circles when riding your bike. The official length says 4.7 miles but if you go end to end it's a little over 6...about 6.2. One caution. As of 5/21/23 there are no functional bathrooms available on this trail. On one end they were all locked, on the other all were destroyed and non-working or locked. Overall, a nice trail but plan ahead.
Phase one is now finished, 6.2 miles one way, asphalt & concrete. Plenty of parking at both ends. Follows Arkansas River & on top of the levee with several deer crossings. Downtown section has a lot of foot traffic, benches & goes close the the new US Marshall’s Museum.
Ran my first half marathon (virtual) on this trail. Trail is fully paved and is mostly flat. Well maintained and we enjoy running it. You can do out and backs or park a car at either end of the trail and do the 6 mile one way. Plenty wide for trail traffic without any issues. Beautiful scenery along the way.
I can tell the trail is not completely finished, but it has had MAJOR upgrades since people last reviewed it. The first half of the trail (starting at the River Front Park near downtown Fort Smith and following the river) is now a nice wide concrete walkway with a pavilion and statuary near the park and benches along the trail. About mid-way through the first half of the trail there is another pavilion and a nice footbridge. There is also lighting all along this part of the trail. There is no heavy vegetation close to the trail, so no security worries or surprises.
It has been years since I walked on the second half of the trail that leads to Fort Smith Park. It is still a gravel trail, but smooth and level as it was build upon old railway tracks. I'm not sure if this portion of the trail is lighted, but it does have vegetation closer to the trail, so people may not feel as secure at night.
If you haven't been on this trail in a couple of years, I highly recommend it. It's a very easy trail, except the length may be a challenge for some, and a lot of it is now wheelchair accessible.
It seems the parks dept. read the last comment and did a great job.
I went today for a 10 miles return run from the national historic site and I enjoyed a lot.
I started from the Narional historic site, followed the river toward north, passed below the bridge Rd 64 and stayed on the Riverfront Dr. for 2 miles, then after a small bridge I took the trail on the left. The gravel trail is on the top of the digue between the Arkansas river and the Riverfront dr. It is surrounded by trees and we can glimpse the river from time to time. The trail itself is a bit more than 3 miles one way. It is extremely well maintained, the grass was freshly cut and the gravel is perfectly flat with no hole.
I spotted young deers fighting and enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the Arkansas River.
A great place to run far from the traffic in Fort Smith.
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