Start out on the riverfront in historic downtown where scores of hundred-plus year old brick buildings line the streets that border the Fort Smith National Historic Site. You’ll take off near the future site of the National US Marshals’ Museum, pass the bigger than life bronze statue of US Marshal Bass Reeves, and skirt the boundary of the old fort and federal courthouse where Judge Isaac C. Parker held court.
Make a beeline down Garrison Avenue, the wide main corridor in the heart of old Fort Smith, where parading soldiers, covered wagons and trolley cars have been replaced by a vibrant business, arts and entertainment scene. Turn in front of Immaculate Conception Church at the end of Garrison, an inspiring French chateau-revival style cathedral constructed in 1899 for a parish that was already over fifty years old. It’s the same site where Irish Sisters of Mercy set out to serve the community in 1853. Heading east, you’ll pass several other congregations who’ve worshipped in Fort Smith for more than a hundred years: First Baptist, First Methodist, First Presbyterian, and Saint Boniface to name a few. Exiting downtown is one last icon, the old Fort Smith High School, home of the “Grizzlies”, now known as Northside High.
Continuing east, you’ll travel past our beautiful main branch of the Fort Smith Public Library and the spacious and wooded Creekmore Park. Then it’s down Free Ferry Road lined with gorgeous southern-charm old-guard estates. At Albert Pike Avenue, you’ll encounter your first real hill, a quarter mile climb past Trinity Catholic Junior High and Saint Scholastica Monastery where the Benedictine Sisters who had arrived at Shoal Creek in 1879 constructed their Fort Smith home in 1925.
Crossing Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith’s primary east-west thoroughfare you’ll get a chance to catch your breath as you travel through pleasant neighborhoods on Albert Pike, Hendricks and Country Club, then catch a glimpse of Hardscrabble Country Club—one of the premier golf courses in the state/region. The 1st Leg ends at Southside High School.
At Southside High School you’ll turn east again on Cliff Drive with great views of the golf course, beautiful homes, and the valley of south Fort Smith. As you enter the overpass crossing Interstate 540, you’ll have one of Arkansas’ unique views—the Ouachita Mountains to the south, the Ozark Mountains to the north, and the highest point in the state, Mount Magazine to the east
Crossing Rogers Avenue again, you’ll enter rolling neighborhoods that precede the significant climb to Miletree Drive. On top you’ll be treated to a trip through one of the most exclusive residential areas of Fort Smith with fantastic views of the Arkansas River, Ozark Mountains and the historic town of Van Buren to the north. Leaving the hilltop, you’ll encounter one of two substantial descents on the course as you come down on Massard Road. At the bottom, you’ll find a long flat stretch that takes you once again across Rogers Avenue and, just past Phoenix Avenue, to Massard Trail, a paved path that parallels the roadway. The 2nd Leg ends across Zero Street at Chaffee Crossing.
Here, the trail enters the wooded ridgetop of Chaffee Crossing and Ben Geren Regional Park. This includes a challenging climb within the first mile, additional rolling terrain and a significant descent, all in a serene natural setting. On top as you pass by a WWII POW-built ampitheater, you’ll be treated to views in the valley below of the park and the Fort Smith Regional Airport. Reach the bottom and you’ll circumnavigate the park’s disc golf and traditional golf courses on flat park roads. The 3rd Leg ends as you exit the park.
Leaving Ben Geren Regional Park, you’ll have flat roadway on Geren Road and Hwy 45/Old Greenwood Road, including a slight descent to Zero Street Form here you’ll see ahead the final challenge—a gentle incline of over half a mile. Reaching the top will be worth it as the last five miles is virtually all downhill! Enjoy the glide down Old Greenwood Road past quaint neighborhoods, unique shops and some great local flavors. When the Church League Ballfields and Creekmore Park come into view you’ll know you’re almost done. Cross Rogers Avenue for the last time and it’s a straight 2-mile shot down B Street to the finish and your US Marshals’ badge-style finishers’ medal!