2009 Alaska travel blog

Petit Jean State Park - Site 4 in Loop A

The Arkansas River as seen from on top Petit Jean

The trail down to Rock Cave

Turtle Back boulders on the way to Rock Cave

Rock Cave

Redbuds in full bloom outside the Visitor's Center

Some widlflowers along the way in Doris' favorite color

Cedar Falls seen from above at the overlook

Some of the stream below Cedar Falls

More of the stream below Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls at ground level

The canyon that contains the Natural Bridge we hiked down to

Small stream running across our trail

That same small stream further down the trail

Dogwoods right against the Natural Bridge trail

The Natural Bridge trail is anything but smooth!

Wildflowers along Natural Bridge trail

Wildflowers growing in a rock crevise

Wildflowers so shiny they looked plastic

Natural Bridge

The trip up from Crater of Diamonds Thursday was uneventful though it started out in the rain. The rain cleared and the rest of the drive was easy and enjoyable. We bypassed Little Rock on I-430 so the traffic wasn't bad. After arrival we got all set up and camp ready just before it started raining again - no campfire tonight! Cell service, internet and satellite are all good up here on top of the mountain. The sites

are very large and we have full hook ups. Petit Jean was the first state park in Arkansas, founded in 1923, and is their premier state park. They have a multitude of activities available and many trails to hike.

Friday was a day for sightseeing and hiking. There are a number of overlooks

from the top of the mountain that provide an expansive view of the Arkansas countryside including the Arkansas River.

We also hiked down to the Rock Cave.

This was a relatively short hike, .5 miles, down the side of the mountain

to a huge rock that had been weathered and washed out. Indians lived in it in the past and some petroglyphs were evident, though so old as to be almost indistinguishable.

I also hiked the more strenuous and lengthy 2 mile trail to Cedar Falls. We were afraid Doris' knees wouldn't handle the hike so I took it first to check it out. It was a good thing. This trail is marked as moderate to hard and it was every bit of that. You had to hike down the side of a canyon on a trail made of many switchbacks and constructed of large boulders and flat rocks. Most of the steps were over 12 inches high and many were two feet or more. Other than the difficulty of the hike it was an extremely nice experience. All the way down the wall of the canyon there was a small stream gurgling along side the trail. Once you reached the bottom of the canyon, you crossed a large stream

created by Cedar Falls and walked, scrambled over boulders, beside that stream to Cedar Falls itself.

Saturday we hiked the Natural Bridge trail. It is a 2.4 mile rugged trail down into a canyon to a natural bridge rock formation.

This one has formed similar to the ones out West in Arches National Park and Natural Brdiges National Monument in Utah. The stone around here is sandstone with layers of iron and other minerals. This particular formation has more sandstone than usual and it eroded over time leaving the natural bridge.

The total trek down and back took about 2.5 hours as some parts of it was slow going due to the rough trail.

Like yesterday, this trail also had a small stream running along side of it, getting larger and larger the farther down we went. Many wildflowers were also in bloom along the trail.

All in all, Petit Jean has been one of the best parks we have visited. Lots of nature and fantastic overlook views as well as a nice campsite. This is the type of camping we enjoy the most! Tomorrow we head to Muskogee, OK and hope to see the Annual Azalea Festival there Monday. Even more importantly, we hope I can get the satellite sighted in for the Louisville/Oklahoma women's final four matchup!

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