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Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Morrilton, AR

Natural Bridge, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Visited Petit Jean State Park last weekend, what an absolutely beautiful park...well-kept throughout, very friendly and helpful rangers....and the trails, wow! One could easily spend a week here and not have the time to take in all of the Ozark's finest splendor. Primitive camping is frowned upon here so I camped at site #98, a very wooded site that is very deep and secluded if you are a hammock camper as I. Water and Electricity are available at all camp sites at Petit Jean. 

The first trail I'll review is Seven Hollows Trail. One must drive to it from the campgrounds and ample parking is provided. The trail is listed at 4.5 miles, but with side trips and spurs you'll easily get over 5 miles in. It's not an easy trail with many elevation climbs (my AllTrails recording showed 636 ft of Elevation Gain) and rocks, I'd say moderate rating. There are two points of interest that most people hike for, the Natural Bridge and the Grotto. But there is so much more to explore on this trail. 

The first 2 miles are for the most part down hill. (That is taking the trail clock-wise, turning left upon the loop trail at the trail head) You will experience many rock formations and caves along the path, most on the right. Many spurs and side trails will lead you to explore these natural sights. 

Cave on the right of the trail, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State park, Arkansas

There are a few creeks you will hike beside and none of them run much except during a storm. Some are fed by springs, and in some areas they will be orange due to the iron in the area. It is here that we ran into this guy, a Cottonmouth, or Water Moccasin. As with most snakes he did not threaten but did hold his ground. I simply stepped around him and went on my business, as did he!


Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin) Snake, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

 The Natural Bridge will be the first of the two Points of Interest noted on the trail map. Created by erosion this natural rock bridge is amazing to walk under and take in. You may explore all around the bridge area, and even on top of the bridge if you are a climber. 

Natural Bridge, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Miles 2 to about 3.5 are going to be up and down, typical elevation climbs of 60-80 feet. A couple times you climb out of the 'hollow' and to the top of the cliff. Here you walk on eroded rock and some 'turtle rocks', rocks eroded to look like a Turtle's shell. (These are very stunning on the Rock House Cave trail at Petit Jean State Park, I'll review that trail shortly also) 

Top of a Hollow, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Along the trail you will find a wide variety of plants. Ferns grow both on the forest floor and along rock ledges. Mushrooms....red, white and yellow are found in some of the more moist and shaded areas of the trail. There are pine forests in the drier, higher elevations, cypress trees in the lower wetter lands. 


Fern and Yellow Mushroom, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

The second Point of Interest is The Grotto. It's a large cave created by erosion and a creek that runs during the spring and when it rains. There is a pool of water in the cave floor even during the dry season. You will take a spur off the mail trail to get to it, only about .25 mi each way. When you leave the Grotto, to continue on the path you will look for a blue arrow on a large rock pointing up...you will climb up a few rocks to continue on your way. Keep an eye out for that painted arrow! 

Opening of the Grotto, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

After the Grotto the trail is mostly uphill, a decent elevation climb over the last 2 miles, back to the trail head. This is a loop so you will look for the spur to the left that takes you back to parking. You will walk through more interesting rock features and open dry forest. 


Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

I hiked 2 full days at the park and only had one tick and very few chiggers. Some deer will be seen in the park, usually early morning. There are snakes as you saw earlier in the post, keep an eye open for Rattlers, Copperheads and Cottonmouths. I did see a couple small snakes of no consequence on the trail. I spent nearly 4 hours on the trail and honestly could have spent 6. My moving time was 3 hours, I could have explored so much more, there are endless possibilities.
 
I highly recommend taking most of a day and explore the Seven Hollows Trail at Petit Jean State Park. The Ozarks provide us many great views and explorations....Petit Jean may have more in one area than I have ever seen. Wonderful place, go visit.

-Mike


AllTrails Recording, Seven Hollows Trail, Petit Jean State Park


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