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Biology Professor Publishes Petit Jean Hiking Trail Guide

Moran, Matt - Guide to the Trails of Petit Jean State ParkCONWAY, Ark. (August 19, 2014) – Hendrix biology professor Dr. Matthew Moran recently completed Guide to the Trails of Petit Jean State Park, the first comprehensive educational guidebook for the park’s hiking trail system.

The 62-page book is available in print at in Kindle format through It will also be available at the Petit Jean Mountain State Park visitor center.

A year and a half in the making, Moran said he wanted the book to focus on biology, geology and human history.

“Petit Jean has a lot to show,” Moran said. “There’s a real mixture of both eastern and western plant and animal species, which really showcases Arkansas as a unique transition point.”

For example, there are collared lizards, a species common in the desert southwest, and nice oak forest, more common in eastern biological communities.

“There’s also a rich Native American history in the area,” said Moran, adding that there are 900 Native American pictographs, a lot of which are in the park. “Plus there’s just some great scenery.”

Though brochures on individual trails are available at the Petit Jean State Park visitor’s center, there was no comprehensive guide to the whole trail system, Moran said.

“The trails are heavily used, and I thought this would be a really useful resource to have and encourage more visitors,” he said.

The book includes 40 color photos, mostly taken by Moran, plus maps by former Hendrix students Abby DeLoach ’13 and Emily Deitchler ’13, who made the maps as a project for anthropology professor Dr. Bret Hill’s G.I.S. class. Sophie Knorek ’15 assisted with art work and Moran’s former student Charlie Crossman ’00 printed the book at his downtown Conway printing business.

Moran, who lives a mile and a half from the state park, estimates he spent more than 300 hours walking the trails multiple times in different times of year.

Moran also has a pending guide book on the Big Woodsarea, on the bottomland forests of eastern Arkansas, which includes the White River National Wildlife Refuge. He is also considering another book project for Mount Magazine State Park.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit