We asked several local Little Rock residents
where is THE place to go hiking. In each case, the response was pretty much the
same: a wide grin would break out on their faces, their eyes would get that
blissed-out look and they would reverently say, "Petit Jean. You have to go to Petit Jean State Park." So off we
went, in search of the spectacular views, trees, waterfalls, and hiking trails ........ of Petit
"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite,
which is yes."
~e. e. cummings
Petit Jean State Park is about 1 1/2 hours
driving distance from Little Rock, Arkansas. We stopped by the Visitor’s Center
and Gift Shop. Bought some souvenirs and grabbed a Trail Map. Petit Jean is
considered by some to be the crown jewel of the Arkansas State Parks. It is a
diverse park with about 20 miles of scenic hiking trails passing through
natural areas filled with old growth forest, diverse wildlife, colorful flowers
and plant life, fossils and ancient Indian pictographs. Petit Jean State Park is also a favorite spot among
butterfly enthusiasts who look forward to the annual butterfly migration that
begins in March and winds down late October.
We chose the Cedar
Falls Trail, a moderate to strenuous 2 mile trail that follows the Cedar
Creek down to a natural rock basin at the base of a 95 ft. waterfall. The trail
head is just to the left of the Mather
Lodge’s back porch with its panoramic view overlooking the ruggedly spectacular Cedar Creek
Apparently Cedar Falls Trail is a very popular trail. Fortunately,
we hiked the trail on a Thursday afternoon and met very few hikers.
Although Cedar Falls trail is approximately 2 miles, allow
for 2ish hours to complete the hike down to the falls and to return on the path
up, up and up back to the trail head (this was the strenuous part of the hike for sure).
Suggestions for this hike: Definitely wear hiking boots or
very sturdy shoes as the trail does require some scrambling over steep rock
stairs and hiking on a rocky single path switch back trail. Bug Spray is a must
as the gnats can get nasty. Bring water and hydrate. Safety first: Step lively
and be aware of your surroundings as we saw a copperhead snake slither off the
trail. Please do a little research and get to know the residents of the area
before you go. Here is a helpful link on the snakes of
Coming from California, we are very aware of the effects of
drought, which unfortunately, has also impacted the water sources here in
Arkansas. Although they had an extremely wet summer, we were told it had been
about a month since the last rain in Arkansas. The diminished water flow from
the once rushing Cedar Falls is an indicator of how dry we are everywhere!