Cycling Petit Jean Mountain Road
Ride 2.1 miles gaining 729’ at 6.7% average grade.
This is a climb to into the oldest State Park in Arkansas, established in 1923. The climb finishes at Petit Jean Overlook and Gravesite (this location has a 4.9 of 5 Google Review). The park and it’s trails are highly rated and regarded by reviewers. The name of the park comes from the legend of a French girl whose fiance was coming to the US to explore the Louisiana Territory. Since women were not allowed, she cut her hair and traveled disguised as a small boy. She became ill and died on the mountain. Just before her death she revealed herself to her fiance and she was buried on the mountain under the name she had traveled under (Little John which was pronounced by the locals as PET-ih jeen, which is where Petty Jean derives.
Climb summary by PJAMM ambassador Dan Razum.
This is a fairly short climb but well worth doing for the view at the top. We climb from the lowlands next to the Arkansas River up to the plateau where Petit Jean State Park is located.
There isn't a lot of parking along the road leading up to the climb, so the two best options are to start the climb at the overlook parking lot or at the State Park. The State Park is about 4 miles from the top of the climb, over fairly flat terrain. Either way, we would descend the road first and then climb back up. We usually prefer to climb first and then do
the descent, but the climb isn't overly long and the parking is more convenient to do the climb in reverse order.
The climb can be divided into two sections. First we climb up from the river to the plateau, about one and a half miles of steep climbing and then we turn off the main road and ride to the overlook, about a half a mile of gentle climbing.
The pavement is good in both sections, although the road is always narrow with no shoulder. Traffic is fairly light on the main road, which goes to the State Park and points beyond, but you may encounter the occasional RV or travel trailer. Still, we didn't have any concerns, as the traffic was always courteous. On the short road to the overlook we encountered practically no traffic.
There is a sweeping view of the river valley from the overlook, the scenery is really beautiful. If you ever visit the Petit Jean State Park, you should definitely add on this ride.