Before starting the Seven Hollows trail, I made a quick stop at the old pioneer cabin at Petit Jean. The cabin sits at the trailhead for the Cedar Creek trail, which I intend to hike again sometime soon (no time that day). The cabin was built sometime around 1845.
I had to try to find a way to avoid getting a few signs in the shot. Ones gives the history of the building. The other sign warns against people being a-holes and leaving graffiti there (I paraphrase that part), since the building is old and historic and whatnot.
This was taken looking through some of the old boards of the cabin:
And then it was on to the Seven Hollows Trail. Oddly enough, the Seven Hollows Trail actually only visits four hollows. But there are a few interesting sights in the hollows that it visits - including a few waterfalls, a natural bridge and several caves. Most of this area burned in a wildfire in 2000, and while the forest is slowly recovering it still does look a bit well-done in places.
The trail starts out and drops down into the first hollow, running alongside a small creek. There are several caves along the bluffs there, this is the view looking out from one of them.
And the same cave from the outside:
Petit Jean Mountain is known for its romantic history (hey, Valentine's Day!), and for it's scenic beauty. I think one of the coolest things about the park are the rocks there. The rocks along the trail had some interesting designs, which were married with a different mixture of moss or lichen.
About 1.5 miles into the hike, you reach the "natural bridge." Now I don't really think this counts as a natural bridge, it's more of an arch. It's not like you could drive or walk across it, but oh well. The bridge or arch is about 30 feet tall..
From the "natural bridge" the trail continues on, running alongside the creek. That creek does create a few waterfalls, and I stumbled and walked across a fallen tree to get in position to get these shots of some small waterfalls.
There is another waterfall along the trail, located in a grotto along one of the hollows. It isn't the tallest of waterfalls around, only 18 feet. But I have made this hike a few times and have found this waterfall not running. With all the ice and rain we've had lately, I thought I might actually get to see it running. So after two miles or so of hiking, I finally made it to the hollow to find the waterfall there...
While taking pictures there I heard something odd in the distance. It took me awhile to realize that it was thunder. While it was cloudy and overcast, it hadn't rained on me while I was out on the trail. Now it sounded like a storm was making its way towards Petit Jean. It was bizarre weather - we just had an ice storm a few weeks ago, now we're getting thunder storms. What's next, a hurricane?
The Seven Hollows Trail is 4.5 miles long and rated as a "medium" level hike. I was about halfway through it while a storm was approaching. I hurried along the trail, walking as fast as I could and trying to get the hike done before the worst of the storm hit. Looking back, it probably would have been wiser to have stayed at the grotto, since it had a nice little cave-like area to take shelter in. Instead I hiked in a rain that started to get heavier. I did have an umbrella with me, but since it had metal in it I thought it would be best not to open it in a thunderstorm (especially since I was carrying a metal tripod at the same time). Luckily the camerabag is waterproof.
After walking about a mile, the rain started to fall heavier. The lightning and thunder sounded like it was getting closer. I decided to take shelter under a bluff, which seemed a bit better than hiking alongside tall trees. As I sat and rested, I saw some lightning flash across the sky. I had some time to kill, so I took this dorky and soaked self-portrait as I waited out the storm.
About 30 minutes later, the worst of the storm seemed to have moved on and it wasn't raining that much. I started back on the trail, looking forward to getting to my car at the end of the trail.
Mile 4...Almost finished!
A bit later I finally made it back to my car, where I was pleased to find some spare and dry clothes to change into. Although I was soaked, I've been on worse hikes. This trip through Seven Hollows doesn't even compare to a trip taken about this time last year while trying to reach Twin Falls at Richland Creek (for that adventure, click HERE).