“Take A Hike” is a weekly series that examines diversity in the outdoors. In each installment, we’ll highlight one of the Natural State’s 52 state parks and talk to BIPOC Arkansans about what they enjoy about spending time in nature.
"I love to be in nature alone when my mind is heavy. I can hear from God clearly when there is no sound but the sound of nature."
Name: Belinda Devine
Hometown: University Park, IL
Currently Lives In: Little Rock, AR
Occupation: CISCO (I.T.)
Favorite Outdoor Space: Buffalo National River
What’s one outdoor place you want to explore, but haven’t yet?
Blanchard Springs Caverns
What do you enjoy about the outdoors?
I absolutely love the peaceful sounds of the outdoors, the beauty of nature and the oneness with God in everything around me. I usually camp near a creek as I love the sounds of water rolling off the stones in the water.
Do you prefer spending time outdoors alone or with friends? Why?
I am tied between those two options. I love to be in nature alone when my mind is heavy. I can hear from God clearly when there is no sound but the sound of nature. However, when I am not feeling heavy with life’s issues, I love the fellowship with others who enjoy nature and its beauty. I need help with my tent and enjoy the companionship of outdoor activities such as roasting marshmallows over the campfire.
Do you have a favorite outdoor activity?
I love to float down the river. It’s fun, cooling and adventurous.
ABOUT THE PARK
Petit Jean State Park is a natural and historic treasure that has welcomed travelers for decades. According to Arkansas State Parks, the natural beauty and ancient geology of Petit Jean Mountain inspired the creation of Arkansas’s first state park .
The park mirrors the mountain’s rugged beauty with its rustic-style, native log and stone facilities constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps beginning in 1933. The CCC built trails, roads, bridges, cabins, and the focal point of the park, historic Mather Lodge, a 24-room lodge overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon with a restaurant, meeting rooms, and gift shop. The fireplace in the lobby serves as a welcoming gathering place in the winter.
Upstream from Cedar Creek, a CCC rock dam forms Lake Bailey, 100 acres for fishing, kayaking, and pedal boating. Open in the summer months, the boathouse offers a snack bar, boat rentals, and supplies. The 125 park campsites are near Lake Bailey. Other options include a group camp area, rally-style area, and four Rent-A-Yurts. The park also has an airport. Two swimming pools, picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, boat launch ramp, tennis and basketball court, and an amphitheater are also on site.
Hiking trails lead through forests and meadows, over canyons, and along streams and the mountainside. Park guests can explore where nature formed sheer bluffs, the spectacular 95-foot Cedar Falls, Seven Hollows, and such distinctive features as Bear Cave, the Grotto, Natural Bridge, and other formations like carpet rocks and turtle rocks. Interpreters lead programs and special events throughout the year showcasing the uniqueness of this park.