Monday, October 28, 2013


Petit Jean Redux

Another trip to Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton, Arkansas on another picture-perfect weekend.

Behind the waterfall (Cedar Falls)

Cedar Falls were only slightly flowing Friday afternoon when we made our way down the chiseled path from Mather Lodge to the Cedar Creek bridge and took the short hike to the base of the waterfall. The water level was low in the fall’s splash pool so we navigated the bolder rim and made our way behind the waterfall to get a view from the cliff-face looking downstream.

Bear Cave
I had hoped our visit to Petit Jean in late October would coincide with the color season, but all was still green, we were probably two weeks early for the fall colors.  The skies were overcast and a slight drizzle greeted us as we climbed out of the river valley at Blue Hole late in the afternoon.  Fortunately the canopy was thick enough to keep most of the water off of us. By the time we crossed the highways and entered the Seven Hollows area, the rain stopped and the sun peaked out for a short moment.  As always, Bear Cave area proved one of my favorite stops, as we lingered long enough to climb on a couple of the rock formations before heading back to the lodge.

Rock House Cave
Turtle rocks above Rock House Cave
After a restful night in Mather Lodge, Saturday greeted us with sunny skies and moderate temperatures.  I walked a portion of trail that was foreign to me that morning, heading NE from the lodge and making our way to the Cedar Falls Overlook and then on to the Cedar Creek Trail connection just below the Pioneer Cabin; this added a couple of miles to the upper falls leg of the hike.  Crossing Cedar Creek the trail parallels the stream back to the north side of the falls, then ventures on to Rock House Cave and a large collection of turtle rocks.  After visiting the cave we retraced our route and returned to Mather Lodge.

Petit Jean grave site above Arkansas River
Sunday morning had us preparing to leave the park, but we took some time to travel Red Bluff Drive and visit the two west facing overlooks.  After leaving the park, and as we descended the mountain, we stopped at Petit Jean’s gravesite and overlook and enjoyed an elevated view of the Arkansas River valley below.  

As always, the trails were uncrowded, the lodge clean, and the park staff was hospitable, making Petit Jean State Park one of my favorite weekend get-a-ways.

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