The White River National Wildlife Refuge is 115,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, a mere postage stamp when compared to the 25 million acres that covered the Lower Mississippi Valley before Europeans arrived and cleared it for farmland and cities. Nevertheless, it is the place to go to understand the variety of ecosystems in a bottomland forest and swamp
Spring and summer visits to the refuge can be frustrating because so much of it can be underwater and the creeks and lakes and forests are not accessible. Not any more.
The refuge celebrated the opening of a 3/4 mile long trail that starts on high ground near refuge headquarters, descends into bottomland hardwoods–Nutall oak, willow oak, and sweet gum on slightly higher land, overcup oak and bitter pecan on lower land; crosses a swamp on a boardwalk through cypress and tupelo; and continues around along the White River to its end. For most of the years the boardwalk will carry visitors above any flooding. During extreme floods, like that of 2011 which covered the boardwalk, its construction is flood proof.