Hiking Arkansas -Petit Jean State Park Lodge and Waterfall Hike

The first thing I noticed when arrived at Petit Jean State Park was the breathtaking view over Cedar Creek Canyon. An adorable couple asked if we wanted our family picture taken and shared how this is the spot they got in engaged and travel back to year after year on their anniversary. It’s a special place!

mather lodge petit jean

I was also instantly charmed by Mather Lodge which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.

Inside the Lodge we enjoyed lunch. The vaulted log ceilings and expansive views of the canyon made it a memorable experience.

petit jean waterfall

After lunch we put on our hiking boots and started down Cedar Falls Trail. The trailhead was conveniently located right behind the Lodge.

This hike is 2 miles round trip and is rated as Moderate, Strenuous. This is a popular and well-rated hike on AllTrails.com where I enjoyed reading fellow hikers comments such as, ‘well worth the effort’ and ‘You’ll get your heart rate going coming back up, but it’s well worth the hike’.

In the pictures that follow I hope I captured some of the beauty we saw along the trail as well as the terrain.

The trail was pretty steep, but our daughters were able to hike it on their own with some handholding in spots and lots of encouragement.

Cedar Falls is worth the effort. According to the park’s website the falls measures 95-feet making it one of the ‘tallest continuously flowing waterfalls in the state.’ We hiked in April after recent rain storms so the water flow was spectacular.

We enjoyed a snack at the waterfall before heading back up towards the Lodge.

things to do at petit jean state park

On this trip we only staid for half of a day, but after seeing all that Petit Jean has to offer from swimming pools to unique hiking trails, we are hoping to go back again soon. Additional attractions include fishing, kayaking, and pedal boating at Lake Bailey. You’ll also find picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, tennis courts, and a basketball court. If you are interested in history, Petit Jean State Park is a certified Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Site.

Petite Jean State Park is located in Morrilton, Arkansas which is a 2.5 hour drive from our home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Accommodations include the Lodge, cabins and camping options including Rent-A-Yurts.

You can find more information about Petit Jean State Park on their website at https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/petit-jean-state-park.

We love Arkansas State Parks! Here are several more posts about the Arkansas State Parks we’ve visited so far.

Introverts Guide to Estes Park, Colorado

I’ve been on a search for a better vacation destination for our family than Estes Park, Colorado. Guess what!? I haven’t discovered one yet. The reason why is because Estes Park combines the beauty of the natural world with a lot of family-friendly entertainment options.

I found a fun article, The Vacation You Should Take, Based on Your Introverted Myers-Briggs Type. I believe there is something in Estes Park for every personality type or mood that you are in. Here are some ideas for my fellow introverts:

The article says that ‘INTJ: Go on a reading retreat at a secluded cabin’. If this is you, Estes Park is perfect because there are a lot of cabins like ours to rent in Estes Park. One of my favorite things to do on vacation is sit by our fireplace and get lost in a good book. I stock up on books when I’m in town at Macdonald Bookshop and Cliffhanger Used Books. Check out my Book Lovers Guide to Estes Park.

For the personality type INTP, the article suggests you ‘Attend your favorite convention, like Comic-Con.’ I used to work at a convention center, so I know there is a convention for every hobby. Some of the hobby conventions held in Estes Park include the Craft Spirits Festival, Bigfoot Days, and Wool Market which are held at Estes Park Events Complex. There is also a large Scottish-Irish Highlands Festival at the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

INFP types should ‘Connect with nature, like going on a quiet forest retreat’. Estes Park is located next to Rocky Mountain National Park. There are countless opportunities to connect with nature in the park. However, because this is such a popular tourist destination, you’ll benefit from venturing to the park during off-peak seasons such as winter and spring. If you go during summer months, avoid holiday weekends, get up early, and go hiking further than most fellow hikers (over 3 miles). One of my favorite spots to connect with nature is the Calypso Cascades in the Wild Basin.

The article says ISFP types should ‘Take a trip to the beach’. Based on the articles description (‘love spending time with a few favorite friends and hobbies’ + ‘often like to be creative and to explore new places’), this is the personality type I most relate to. One of the things I struggle most with Estes Park is that I feel like I’m going to run out of new places to explore if we keep going back every year. That’s why I often come up with ‘food adventures’ on our trip. For example we went to all the Asian restaurants in town to figure out which we liked most. We also did a Cinnamon Roll Showdown and searched for Estes Park’s best bowl of chili.

Finally, INFJ types should ‘Have “creative space” at an Airbnb in a new town.’ For these types I recommend going on a relaxing stroll along Estes Park Riverwalk. First stop at Kind Coffee whose mission is to ‘Promote the sustainability of our environment through the sales of certified organic and fairly traded coffees’. Next step into one of the town’s numerous art galleries. This summer I’m excited to check out Joy House, ‘a store made up of gifts that are all made by friends with special needs or disabilities.’ You might also enjoy spending time in Rocky Mountain National Park sketching or photographing the incredible mountain landscape and wild animals like elk or moose that frequent the area. For tips check out local photographer Erik Stensland’s new book, ‘The Photographers Guide to RMNP’.

Balto Statue in Central Park

From the Belvedere Castle to a zoo, there is a lot for tourists and locals to enjoy in Central Park, but for us there was only one priority – to see the statue of Balto,’The Bravest Dog Ever’.

Our interest in the famous Alaskan sled dog began early this school year when our daughter’s first grade teacher gave her a book about famous dogs. The story featured Balto and the incredible mission to save children in the small town of Nome, Alaska from an outbreak of diphtheria in 1925.

This story captured our daughter’s imagination and soon we were ordering other versions of the book including ‘The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Step-Into-Reading)’ and ‘Balto of the Blue Dawn (Magic Tree House: Merlin Missions Book 26)’. Through our Balto research, we discovered that there is a bronze statue of Balto in Central Park. Since we were planning a trip to New Jersey to visit family, we decided to find the statue in New York City on our Spring Break trip.

On a Sunday morning, we took a train from New Jersey to Penn Station in New York. We were a little nervous to use busy public transportation with our kids, but they did great. Here is a map of the NJ Transit Rail System. At Penn Station we were able to get on the Subway (Subway Map) to Central Park and the Museum of Natural History.

We attempted to re-create a picture we took during our first trip to New York, which was six years ago. I wrote about our experience visiting New York with a baby stroller here.

At last, we found Balto! You can find out more information about ‘one the most beloved monuments in the Park’ from the Central Park Conservancy.

Eagle Watch Nature Trail at AEP-SWEPCO Flint Creek Power Plant

The Flint Creek Power Plant Eagle Watch Nature Trail is located near Gentry, Arkansas. According to on-site signage, the plant site contains a 500-acre cooling lake. There is a half mile trail with two pavilions and a viewing deck that are open to the public.

Link to AEP-SWEPCO trail map.

Eagles in Northwest Arkansas

Visitors come to see bald eagles that winter on the lake. According to SWEPCO’s website, ‘Although wintering bald eagles are the main attraction, many of the 144 bird species identified at the site also can be seen.’ For this reason, the site has been designated as an important bird area by Audubon Arkansas.

BirdingNorthwest Arkansas

Here is a list of birds that you might be able to see on your visit. We brought along our binoculars and cameras which turned this short hike into an adventure for our girls (ages 5 and 7). They were eager to get out and explore!

SWEPCO
Eagle Watch Nature Trail
Eagle Watch Nature Trail Flint Creek Power Plant
Eagle Watch Nature Trail Flint Creek Power Plant

Visit swepco.com for more information.

Interested in spotting more eagles? Check out the Audubon society’s Northwest Arkansas Winter Bald Eagle Auto Tour as well as a list of over 40 places to bird watch in Northwest Arkansas.