For 13 years now, I have lived less than an hour away from Petit Jean Mountain and State Park and have never been there until last week. I can't believe it! Arkansas has so many great places to visit and explore, and I just hadn't made it to Petit Jean yet. Colin hadn't been in a very long time, and of course, Harlow had never been, so we all loaded up in the Beetle and took the back highway for a day at Petit Jean.
We barely scratched the surface of what there is to see and do at Petit Jean. We did what was feasible and enjoyable with an almost two-year-old. We went to overlooks and easy trails. Harlow is a little too big to be carried for very long and a little too small to walk some trails on her own. Colin and I are planning on going back soon when it's just the two of us. There was so much I wanted to see that we didn't get to on this trip (like the waterfall!). But that's okay! There is still so much you can enjoy as a family with younger kids. Harlow had a great time!
We stopped at the visitor center after we walked to the first overlook. There you'll find maps and details about the trails. I have photos of the brochures at the end of this blog post, along with a video from our trip.
Now, let me show you what we did while we had a few hours at Petit Jean State Park.
Cedar Falls Overlook
This is an easy walk to the overlook to see the waterfall. Harlow had no trouble with the distance or terrain. It's a beautiful walk and view.
Rock House Cave Trail
We started this trail after stopping by the visitor center. I wore Harlow on my back. We didn't too far past the turtle rocks before heading back. We were the only ones on the trail at the time, and we heard some growling. I didn't feel comfortable with the unknown while Harlow was with us. This is definitely a trail I have to go back to see. The rocks that look like turtles are a sight to see.
We had lunch at Mather Lodge, a beautiful restaurant with an amazing view. It's surrounded by cabins and rooms. I've looked at pictures of the lodging online, and the rooms look pretty impressive. After lunch, we lingered around the lodge to enjoy the view.
Bear Cave Trail
This is an easy walk and fun for families. We only stayed at the top of the trail around the rock formations and the little "bear" cave.
Before leaving Petit Jean, we drove to this overlook to take in the top of the mountain and the deep valley. It was a great way to top off the trip.
Whether you live within an hour's drive of Petit Jean or a few states over, it's worth a visit! Colin and I are planning our return trip and are determined to make it a regular family outing. If you're a regular visitor to Petit Jean, give me some tips (for times with or without toddlers) and tell me your favorite trail or activity!