Petit Jean State Park- Family friendly hikes and trails. Guide to our favorite hikes, overlooks and places to visit at Petit Jean State Park.
One of our first family trips when moving to Arkansas in 2017, was to Petit Jean State Park. What’s so great about this State Park is how easy it is to get to from the Little Rock area and it has something for everyone. Camping, bike trails, short trails for little legs, playground, picnic areas and much more.
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It quickly became one of our favorite places and is a top tourist spot for taking extended family visiting from out of town. Because with things like fresh coffee, homemade fudge, petting zoos, automobile museums and trails for all skill levels, how could you go wrong?
PETIT JEAN STATE PARK
Our family visitors guide
PETIT JEAN STATE PARK OVERLOOK
Coming up the mountain from the east, on the right hand side, you’ll find Petit Jean Overlook or Stout’s Point. Here you’ll learn the history behind the name Petit Jean.
Legend tells the story of a young French girl who wanted to accompany her fiancé to the new world. To do so she disguised herself as a cabin boy but became fatally ill and requested to be buried here.
At the overlook you’ll find gorgeous views of the Arkansas river along with her burial site.
If you haven’t been to Petit Jean in a while, then you might not know that they have a new visitors center. This visitors center is beautiful! It’s set back from the road right on Lake Bailey. Inside you’ll find a gift shop, restrooms and exhibits on the parks history.
ROCK CAVE HOUSE AND TURTLE ROCKS
Length-0.25 miles, easy
If you have kids then Rock Cave House and Turtle Rocks are a must to explore. Just past the visitors center you’ll turn right onto Red Bluff Drive. Over the bridge keep to the left down the dirt road. Then another left at the fork in the road before you reach the parking lot. Just past the trail head you’ll come across Turtle Rocks. Large rocks that look like the back of turtle shells.
Continuing down the path you’ll reach Rock Cave House. Although this is not truly a cave, it is a giant rock structure that makes it feel very cave like. Either way this area is packed with things to explore.
M.A. RICHTER MEMORIAL OVERLOOK
A dirt road just past Rock Cave House takes you to two beautiful overlooks. The first one is M.A. Richter Memorial overlook. On a clear day you can see Mt. Nebo in the distance.
CCC OVERLOOK- CEDAR CREEK CANYON
Continuing down the dirt road you’ll come to CCC overlook. This overlook is stunning with it’s small rock house and view of Cedar Creek Canyon.
CEDAR CREEK TRAIL
Length- 1.25 miles, moderate
Starting at Pioneer Cabin you’ll find Cedar Creek Trail. This 1.25 mile loop trail takes you right down to the creek and over two foot bridges. At times it does become steep and rocky, making this trail a bit more moderate.
CEDAR FALLS OVERLOOK
This overlook is a beautiful spot to see the Cedar Falls, especially in the fall! Arkansas may not get the type of foliage that New England gets but when you have an unusually wet October, the trees around this overlook are gorgeous with yellows and orange. From here you can decide just how adventurous you want to be. Head down to the falls by taking the trail at Mather Lodge? Or maybe head over to Bear Cave.
CEDAR FALLS TRAIL
Length- 2 miles, moderate to hard.
Starting out behind Mather’s Lodge, this 2 mile round trip trail takes you down into the canyon for an up close look at Cedar Falls. The hardest part of this trail is the 1/4 mile trip down to the canyon and 1/4 mile trip back up. It’s not exactly a gradual descend. These switchback stairs can be a bit tough but once you make it down it’s smooth sailing all the way to the falls. ( at the time of this post, the bridge at the bottom is down for repairs. Be sure to check at the visitors center before heading down.)
BEAR CAVE TRAIL
Bear Cave Trail
Length- 0.25 miles, easy
This may be a small walk but the large boulders around you turn this into a kids climbing dream! With caution of course. Around every turn is a new discovery of small passthroughs and huge rocks that make this feel very cave like. Although there isn’t an actual cave, after exploring around here I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
SEVEN HOLLOWS TRAIL
Length- 4.5 miles, moderate
We weren’t completely sure the kids would make it the entire way around this trail loop but we wanted to give it a try. Just about 1/4th of the way around you come across Natural Bridge. A large rock structure that has a flat top and round passthrough looking like a bridge. If you’re not paying attention you might pass it completely!
Continuing down the path, at the halfway mark, you come to The Grotto. But before you do, the trail brings you across a stream several times. The longer your stride, the better luck you’ll have.
Taking this trail in the spring we were met with a nice waterfall and rocks to sit on for a snack and water break. Although, I did hear some people say that during the summer the waterfall isn’t always there. With a 5 and 8 year old, this trail was hard enough that doing it once was enough for us. At least until they are a little older.
OTHER THINGS IN THE AREA
The Outpost- Our favorite place to stop on the way out is The Outpost. This country store has homemade fudge, preserves and salsas. Along with a small lunch menu, outdoor picnic tables and a few rocking chairs to rest your feet after a long hike.
Petit Jean Coffeehouse- In 2019 Petit Jean Mountain got its very own coffee house offering fresh baked goods, delicious coffee and Arkansas made gifts. It’s the kind of place you could stay awhile. And you can! Attached to the Coffeehouse is their own Coffeehouse airbnb.
Museum of Automobiles- Just outside of the state park you’ll find the Museum of Automobiles. This museum is packed with great older cars and usually isn’t very crowded.
Barnyard Friends and Stables- Past the Museum of Automobiles, on Jones Lane, is Barnyard Friends and Stables. Here you’ll find a petting zoo area where you can feed the barn animals and pony rides. If you’re up for a bit more adventure they also offer trail rides!
As you can see there is still a trail or two that this family hasn’t yet explored with little legs. But with each new season Petit Jean State Park has something new to see and do. If you haven’t already, it’s time to take a trip to Petit Jean. So pack a lunch and get ready for an adventure. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for the hot air balloon festivals they have in the area in the spring and fall!
Best of luck and remember to hike safely and stay on the trail.
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Always be prepared and know your limits and skills. The content on this website is meant for entertainment and informational purposes only. This information is not intended to give advice or directions on any hiking trail. This website is not responsible for any accidents, inconvenience, injuries, or loss of life by anyone attempting these hikes. Hike at your own risk.