An Easy But Gorgeous Hike, the Smith Falls Trail Leads To A Little-Known River In Nebraska
Who would think the tallest waterfall in Nebraska is in the middle of the prairie? On the Smith Falls Trail in northern Nebraska’s Smith Falls State Park, trekkers not only get to see one of the most scenic rivers in the state, but also one of the state’s most impressive cascades.
Smith Falls State Park surrounds a beautiful stretch of the Niobrara River. Hikers access the river and the waterfall via a footbridge.
A total of 76 miles of the Niobrara River is designated as a National Scenic River by the National Park Service.
Bluffs along the river are one reason people come to this far-flung park. Though Smith Falls State Park is surrounded by farmland and the grassy, hilly prairie land of the Sandhills, the park itself is mostly forested.
Within this area, the eponymous Smith Falls Trail is a mile-long, out-and-back trek that's an easy hike for all age groups, with less than 50 feet of elevation gain. Much of the trail consists of a boardwalk that takes hikers to the waterfall.
At 70 feet, Smith Falls is the tallest waterfall in Nebraska. The boardwalk takes hikers straight to the bottom of the falls for some great photo ops. Visitors often find a way to the pool below the cascade.
Popular things to do on the Niobrara River include kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. If you didn’t bring your own watercraft, there are rental services in the nearby town of Valentine that include shuttle services.
Smith Falls State Park includes a primitive campground on the opposite side of the river from the waterfall, with restrooms and pay showers. You can pitch your tent right next to the river!
You can learn more about the park and make camping reservations at the
Have you visited Smith Falls State Park and the Niobrara River? What did you see while you were there? Let us know in the comments!
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Smith Falls, Valentine, NE 69221, USA