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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas is known as "The Natural State" and after spending some time in the state I would have to agree.  Arkansas has 52 state parks and acres and acres of undeveloped natural beauty.  Arkansas is a great place to ride motorcycles, camp, hike, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Valley as seen from Petit Jean Mountain
Petit Jean State Park is one of the state parks where I have camped and hiked is found northwest of Little Rock near the Arkansas River.  State Highway 154 runs through the park which sits high on a ridge south of the Arkansas River.  The mountain and state park takes their name from Adrienne Dumont who posed as a young man calling herself Petit Jean.  Click here for more on the Legend of Petit Jean.
The mighty Arkansas River
Accommodations include the 24 room Mather Lodge overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon, 21 fully equipped cabins, 12 overnight cabins, and 125 individual campsites.  Petit Jean also boast as being the only Arkansas state park with its own airport.
Another view from the Petit Jean Overlook
In July 2010 a friend and I reserved a tent campsite.  The campsite was well shaded in the late afternoon, had a nice level areas for a tent, and a picnic table.  We arrived around 5:00 P.M., sat up our tent, and then proceeded to investigate the park before dinner at Mather Lodge Restaurant.
Most campsites at Petit Jean SP are shaded.
We rode to the Petit Jean Mountain Overlook.  The overlook provides a great location to view the Arkansas River and the valley below.  The overlook is also the location of the Petit Jean grave and legend says her ghost still hangs around the mountain.
Site of Petit Jean's grave
After spending some time at the overlook we decided to get some dinner at Mather Lodge.  The restaurant is small and cozy with a great view of Cedar Creek Canyon.  While eating dinner we watched a raccoon climb on the back porch and roam around for a while.
Our dinner guest

View from the porch of Mather Lodge
After a relaxing dinner we sat and watched the sunset and walked around the lodge.  After a good night rest we packed up and decided to hike down to Cedar Falls.  The trail is 2 miles and starts at Mather Lodge.  The trail descends 200+ feet with a series of switchbacks and steps.  It is a out and back trail so hikers have to hike back up the canyon.  The 90 foot waterfall depends alot on the rainfall.  During raining seasons the fall can be very spectacular.  When we were there it had not rained a lot so the falls was very light but, still pretty.
Cedar Falls seen from the trail
There are numerous trails in the park.  One could spend many days at the park and enjoys some great sights. If you are looking for a good place for camping and hiking check out Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas.

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