But, when I do, I favor Petit Jean State Park.
Really, it’s a pretty obvious choice. It’s within about a 45 minute drive of Conway, and it’s really a beautiful place. There are overlooks that give commanding views of the Arkansas River valley. The roads snake their way up the side of the mountain, which also makes it a fun trip on my motorcycle.
The hiking trails are very nice, although really I’ve stuck pretty close to the Cedar Creek Falls trail as my choice. It originates at Mather Lodge and winds its way down the steep mountain side into the hollow that the creek flows through. This year, a lack of rain meant the creek was pretty low and not much water was flowing over the falls. But, the color was really nice.
I went pretty early in the morning, which may have been a mistake; the colors were really muted until the sun came up. By then, I really needed to head back to Conway and get some other chores done, but I was able to explore the creek a bit and come up with a few shots I really liked.
Only bad part of the trip was when I decided to veer off the trail to get a shot of a rock slide where the sun was lighting the tops of the trees into a golden glow. As I made my way up the incline, I detected some movement and a distinct hissing sound. I froze, looking for the snake that I knew was warning me to stay away.
I never saw it, so it may have been all in my head. Either way, I turned tail and headed back to the beaten path.
I’m still working on one image I shot on the creek. It will be a composite of three shots blended to expand the tonal range. I’ll see if I’m successful, and if I am, I’ll post one up here for all to see. If nothing else, hopefully I’ll be able to answer the tyke who saw me in the creek while he crossed the bridge; it prompted him to ask his father, “Why is he down there?”