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.


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!

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.

Arkansas Winter Hikes at Devil’s Den State Park

Today I’m looking back at a hike we did last January at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas.

Yellow Rock

My husband and I were able to schedule a babysitter so that we could hike the Yellow Rock Trail (3 miles) and the Devil’s Den Self Guided Trail (1.5 miles) back-to-back.

Pairing these two hikes makes a great combination because you get the views from Yellow Rock and great waterfalls and caves/rock formations on the Devil’s Den Self-Guided Trail. In a short amount of time, you get a good taste of what makes Arkansas hiking so incredible.

January is typically cold in Arkansas, but when the sun is shining, winter is one of my favorite times to hike in the Natural State.

rock formations decorated with icicles.

Arkansas waterfalls

Melting icicles and snow led to more active water flow. We spotted extra waterfalls along the Self-Guided trail compared to when we hiked it during the hot summer months.

On previous trips to Devil’s Den State park, we hiked the Yellow Rock trail with our kids which I wrote about here. We also hiked the Self-Guided Trail and wrote about that here.

Devil’s Den State Park website includes hours, directions, and additional trail information.

Hike-it-baby’s website reviews the Yellow Rock trail and gives great pointers about hiking with children and pets on this trail.

Top Posts of 2021

Outside my office window the snow is falling here in Arkansas. Between rising COVID cases and the weather, we are feeling a little stuck. I’m choosing to embrace staying at home by enjoying some chili and watching football with my husband this afternoon. And since it’s a long weekend, I hope to drink some tea by our fireplace and finish my book club book too.

I’m eager to get started with our adventures for 2022, but in the spirit of rest and reflection, today I’m excited to look back at the top 3 posts of 2021. We made such fun memories this year.

Top Post – staying at the lodge at golf shores state park

We typically write about hiking in Colorado and Northwest Arkansas, but this year I also included a review of our trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama. It turns out, we were not the only ones drawn to the ocean this year because Staying at The Lodge at Gulf State Park was our top post! Reading it again makes me want to go back right now.

Lodge at Gulf State Park

Runner up: mount magazine cabins: staying at the highest point in arkansas

Our second most-read post was Mount Magazine Cabins: Stay at the Highest Point in Arkansas. Mount Magazine is just two hours south of our home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The cabin we rented had a wraparound deck where we could take in the amazing views of the Petit Jean River Valley. Plus, a hot tub!

Mount Magazine Arkansas cabin

third place: a winter hike on long’s peak trail

Our third most popular post from last year was written by my husband about an amazing winter hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The pictures from his post, A Winter Hike on the Long’s Peak Trail are beautiful. We attempted to repeat this hike in December, which I wrote about here Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park.

These pages and posts have been on our site for a while but continue to be popular.

Happy Birthday to Our Little Mountain Tot

Finally, I want to wish a happy birthday to our youngest daughter who will be turning 5-years-old this month. It’s hard to believe, but when I started writing about our hiking adventures on this blog she wasn’t even born yet.

If you ask Evy, she will say that she prefers ocean to mountains, but when she is in Colorado her favorite activity is to play in the snow. Her favorite hike is Lily Lake and her favorite thing about our cabin is ‘it’s beautiful’.

The Pool: Evy’s First Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park