Driving up the mountain to the visitor center of Petit Jean State Park, I had already decided that I would camp for two or three days if spots were available. I knew that the odds of finding availability were against me on a beautiful Saturday morning in early April. Early that morning I had learned that the romantic legend of Petit Jean, tells the story of a young French girl who disguised herself as a cabin boy so she could travel with her fiance to the new world. Falling fatally ill, Petit Jean asked to be buried in the mountain that now carries her name. It was hard not to fall in love with the place!
It was my lucky day! There were two camp sites available and one of them was open for two nights. The customer service at the visitor center was excellent. Armed with maps and park brochures I quickly set up my tent and went on to my first hike. With no time to waste I chose to do a short hike; the Cedar Creek Trail which is only 1.25 miles in length. It does follow the scenic winding Cedar Creek above Cedar Falls. The trail is listed as “moderate” and only in a few sections rock steps and bluffs may pose challenges depending on the hiker’s skills and physical conditions.
After camping for the first night almost a week after I got on the road, the following morning I chose to hike the 4.5 miles long trail (9 miles round trip) Seven Hollows Trail. For my last day I had reserved to hike to short but strenuous Cedar Falls Trail. This trail is quite challenging from beginning to end. It does not matter if it is going up or down. The trail begins behind the Mather Lodge through the breezeway and takes you to the 95-foot Cedar Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in Arkansas. The longest trail in the park is the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Boy Scout Trail which is 12 miles long. This trail connects and follows portions of almost all other trails at Petit Jean State Park.
I had finally done what the trip was supposed to be about: camping and hiking! After almost a week in which I had spent most of the time driving, camping at the park for a couple of nights was quite relaxing. On my third day after hiking to Cedar Falls, I checked out from Petit Jean and headed to Texas.