The Buffalo River Trail: How It Began and Where It’s Going

Another event associated with the year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Buffalo National River is coming up on April 24 with a presentation by Ken Smith on “The Buffalo River Trail: How it Began and Progress on the Trail,” from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Boone County Library in Harrison.

Smith will discuss the origins of the trail, the work that has been completed, and the challenges that trail builders currently face. The event is sponsored by the Buffalo National River Partners.

Smith grew up in Hot Springs and, in 1952, enrolled at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville as a mechanical engineering major. During his freshman year he joined a university hiking group, through which he developed his great love for the Buffalo River country. After leaving the University, he accepted a position with the National Park Service and worked for 12 years as a civil engineer in western parks and as a park planner in Washington, D.C. In 1974, Smith left the National Park Service and returned to Fayetteville, where he became a freelance writer, photographer and researcher. Through the years, he has become instrumental in building the Buffalo River Trail.

The Buffalo National River flows for 135 uninterrupted miles through the Arkansas Ozarks. On March 1, 1972, Arkansas’s Buffalo River was named the first national river in the United States. In addition to the natural beauty, you can enjoy superb canoeing, fishing, hiking, backpacking, and wildlife watching. A huge herd of elk roam the area and are a popular draw. Cabins, camping, resorts, and lodging in small towns are available.

For more information on this and other programs or the BNR Partners, contact Sybil Craig at 870-704-9114, by email at, or by visiting

Find out more about the river by visiting the Buffalo River Chamber of Commerce comprehensive website,

Or, check out the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism new interactive section dedicated to the river and its visitors at The new section features an interactive map that shows the river and all of its landings, along with GPS coordinates and nearest towns. There are also lots of photos of the Buffalo, and a place to share your photos.
The website includes information on floating the river; where to rent a canoe, kayak or raft; a list of guides and outfitters and handy reference points on finding places to eat and stay.

Join the Conversation