Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Petit Jean

Petit Jean State Park is one the best state parks in Arkansas. There are some great trails there, including the one to the mighty Cedar Falls. It's a short drive from Little Rock, and well worth the visit. It had been awhile since I had visited Petit Jean, so I decided to head over there when I had some free time. This is the view from the Stout's Point Overlook, near Petit Jean's grave. It was mostly cloudy that day, and I hoped that the clouds would take over so it'd be easier for waterfall pictures.


I started out on the Cedar Creek trail, which runs for about 1.25 miles. The trail was actually constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps way back in the 1930s. It follows a small stream as it drops down the hill to Cedar Creek, then runs along the creek and then back up the hill. I stopped to get a few pictures, but the clouds were not cooperating. I sat and waited for awhile as clouds slowly drifted in front of the sun, granting a few minutes for some hasty pictures.


After finishing the Cedar Creek hike, I started on the trail to Cedar Falls. Luckily the canyon above Cedar Creek is tall enough that the creek was already in shadow. There is a lot of tree damage at Petit Jean, probably casualties from the ice and snow this winter. Several trees had fallen into the creek.


After hiking about a mile, the trail finally reaches Cedar Falls. It is an impressive sight, and one of the most powerful waterfalls in the state.


The falls are 95 feet tall, but the canyon walls surrounding the waterfall are probably twice that.


It's one of the most popular waterfalls in the state. There were a lot of families out there, with kids running and jumping on the rocks.


This is the view looking down Cedar Creek, as the light from the setting sun was catching the distant walls of the canyon.


Cedar Falls is the main attraction here, but the creek can be really scenic and interesting. Along the way back, the creek runs by a tall bluff line. This isn't along the trail, you have to wade through a sea of poison ivy to get to this spot.


The well-worn trail to Cedar Falls...


While hiking back, I looked over to the creek and saw a crane standing in the water just above a small cascade. I rushed to get the camera ready, while trying to not make any sudden movements that would scare it away. I managed to get one picture before the crane moved, and then flew away.


The trail ends back at the lodge, as you make the long slog back up the hill. The trail switchbacks and can get quite steep, instantly reminding you of how out of shape you are. My legs, which had survived Indian Creek a few weeks before, were not happy with me.

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