Petit Jean Mountain is a great place, with lots of cool trails and awesome waterfalls. The biggest and most popular waterfall is Cedar Falls. The waterfall is 95 feet tall, making it one of the tallest in the state. The tallest waterfall in Arkansas is Hemmed-in-Hollow falls at the Buffalo National River, at 209 feet tall. I'm ashamed to say that I've never been there, the five mile "difficult hike" rating has kept me away. But maybe now that I'm unemployed and have a lot of free time, I might try to finally make it there.
But Cedar Falls is much easier to reach, the trail there is only two miles long. It is an easy trail for the most part, and is mostly level except for the end which involves hiking up some steep switchbacks up the side of a hill. I realized just how out of shape I am now as I finished the hike. I used to be able to make that climb without any problem, but this hike left me feeling sore. I need to get out more.
The hike starts out next to the lodge and heads downhill via the switchbacks that will be so nasty on the hike out. As the trail reaches the bottom of the valley, you finally hit Cedar Creek, which rambles over a lot of rocks and mossy boulders along the way.
And a close-up view of the creek:
The trail runs alongside the creek, and eventually you find yourself in front of Cedar Falls. This shot was taken below the falls, where the creek runs through some boulders.
And finally, a shot of the great falls themselves. This is one of my favorite trails in the state.
I was surprised that I hadn't seen many other people out on the trail that day. Petit Jean is a popular park, and this trail sees a lot of traffic. I was alone along the trail, but as soon as I reached the falls a few other people showed up. One of them made their way across the creek towards the falls. Usually I would silently curse this person for intruding into my shot (the nerve!), but this time I didn't mind since he does show some scale for the size of the falls.
And another view of the falls:
My favorite place to get a shot of the falls is from a certain rock that sits in the creek down from the falls. Although you don't get to see all of the falls, it does provide a good view of a small waterfall in the creek. Also, the rock is shaped like a chair with a nice backrest. Part of the rock is flat and makes a nice home for a tripod to rest, too. I've taken a shot from this place many times, but had to make one more shot.
After that I settled down and rested for a bit enjoying the view. It was a nice day, with a great waterfall to enjoy. When it started to rain I decided to start hiking back.
Cedar Creek has a lot of mossy rocks along its run, and I stopped at one spot. Originally I tried to get a shot of this little waterfall with the larger Cedar Falls in the background. That didn't really turn out but here is a shot of a huge rock with its waterfall neighbor:
And one last shot of Cedar Creek as it makes it way along a bluff line: