(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a three-part series on trails in Texarkana, Ark.)
Nix Creek Trail, wide and paved, gently weaves through wooded stands of trees, alongside Nix Creek from Arkansas Boulevard all the way to Gateway Farmers Market on East Broad Street. For much of its length, it has a whimsical "follow the yellow brick road" feel. You almost expect to see Dorothy skipping along with her friends while Toto explores the shaded greensward around it.
At the north trailhead at Arkansas Boulevard, there is a city-maintained parking lot along with two benches flanking the trail. A picnic table graces a small shaded area, and a bright-blue plastic trash can is available. A small sign beside the trail informs visitors that it's 2.4 miles long.
The creek itself is small but manages to carve a deep gully along most of its length. Sandra Moore, who retired from Opportunities, Inc., several years ago, likes to walk the trail with her grandsons.
"The gully is the Grand Canyon of Texarkana," she says. Her grandsons are fascinated by it.
Moore says her grandchildren have taught her to see the trail through the eyes of a child, emphasizing that it's perfect for family walks and explorations.
Between 35th and 24th streets, the trail follows the eastern edge of Ed Worrell Park. Along the way is an area of the trail Moore referred to as a "swoosh," where children love to bike as fast as possible down a concrete dip in the trail and up the other side, jumping into the air when they hit the lip.
There are two bridges beside the park, one that crosses Nix Creek to a grassy playing field and another running parallel to the trail that barely rises two feet off the ground. Either bridge is a great place for adventures and pirate games.
From there the trail, still wide and pleasant, zigzags through the trees, past a horse pasture, past a 1 mile marker and on to 24th Street. Across the street, the trail wanders through a densely wooded area, with a clear-cut, green grassy area set apart for the trail. This stretch of the trail is great for bird watchers. You don't want to miss it when birds start nesting in the spring.
Just before reaching 18th Street, visitors cross a wide, steel-and-concrete bridge over the creek. From there the trail wanders behind the bus barn and tennis courts at Arkansas High School. This is another great area of the trail for bird watchers.
Past 12th Street, the trail cuts through Jefferson Park, going right behind the fenced-in dog park. From there, it runs behind the city motor pool before crossing Ninth Street to the Gateway Farmers Market, where it reaches its end.
There isn't much lighting along most sections of the trail, so take a flashlight at night, but during the day it's a beautiful, relaxing walk with plenty to see and do.