To me, the happiness of Hawn State Park lies completely in its pure variety of ways to enjoy it. Are you a rock lover? Visit Hawn to see one of Missouri's best examples of Lamotte Sandstone, an old, coarse-grained sandstone that overlies ancient igneous bedrock. Think Missouri State Parks should be "for the birds"? Well this location sees a great variety of our fine feathered friends, including pine warblers, chickadees, and short eared owls. Love the gentle gurgling of a crystal clear stream? You have to check out Pickle Creek, which has been designated an outstanding state water source due to its crystal clear waters, due in part to that Lamotte Sandstone above. Water lovers may also seek out the River Aux Vases, which meanders through the area, carving out steep valleys.
Pickle Creek Trail, the 300 foot handicapped accessible Overlook Trail, the 9.75 mile Whispering Pines Trail, and the shorter 3.75 mile White Oaks Trail. Each of these well maintained trails allows us to take in all that Hawn has to offer including two backpacking camps on the Whispering Pines Trail for those who wish to take in the "wild" local nightlife, and that makes me happy!
This is the second time I've hiked the White Oaks Trail in Hawn State Park, once in the fall of 2013 with my family and now the summer of 2014 with only my four-legged hiking buddy Hyatt, and I enjoyed every step of each journey. As if the changing seasons couldn't possibly provide enough change and variety, the White Oaks Trail itself constantly changes scenery and trail conditions as you hike. Like a Hollywood star vying for your attention, this hike seems to constantly attempt to outdo itself searching for new, fresh looks to give you.
A GREAT Trailhead Begets a GREAT JourneyI'll start at the very beginning, because it is one of the most important parts of the trail to me, the trailhead. At the clearly marked White Oak trailhead I found a very well stocked information area, which offered literature on other Missouri State Parks, many area maps, a billboard with important informational postings, a very convenient vault toilet, and, on my summer trip, an absence of cars! It appeared as though I may have one of Missouri's prettiest State Parks, all to myself (well not completely myself I did share a bit with my canine companion).
Variety, Variety, Variety...
Continuing down the trail as you approach the first White Connector (WC1, which will lead you to the Whispering Pines Trail), the rocks and roots make way and the trail itself morphs into to a landlocked sandy beach-like trail, bordered by beautiful trees and undergrowth. As you continue to hike, past WC1, the sand particles become progressively larger and larger until they are no longer grains of sand but pebbles and small rocks. Then I catch one of my very favorite scents, pine, and the trail changes yet again, the scattered shortleaf pine needles cushioning my every step as I silently stride the trail's well worn path through majestic native shortleaf pines and cedars. It is here, among the piney giants, that I let a bit of nature's chorus swell around me, listening as the bird's tenor song crescendos, while rhythmic crickets keep measure. The only thing more amazing than the shifting scenery is that I have traveled only a mile to see it all!
|Skullcap, it may sound scary it's actually quite beautiful.|
With so much to see and do along the way, the White Oaks Trail is a great solo or family hiking destination. There are a plethora of opportunities to splash about in a creek, take a side "off-trail" adventure into the underbrush to forage, climb the branches of a gnarled old cedar tree, bound from boulder to boulder, perch upon rock ledges, and so much more that the 3.75 mile length may never even be noticed by most, resulting in less of the dreaded "are we there yet's". This trail is truly diverse, overwhelmingly beautiful and simply begging for you to enjoy. As always, thank you for reading and Happy Trails!
Something New: Google My TracksBelow is a little something new I'm trying, Google's My Tracks. Hopefully you'll be able to garner at least a bit of information from the trail map below. Although the mileage at the White Oaks Trailhead stakes out the trail at 3.75 miles, My Tracks placed the mileage at 4.09 miles, maybe I took a bit of a wider trail than they measured, or perhaps my phone's GPS was off by a few feet here and there. I just hope you find the information below helpful and if you do, please let me know.
More Information:Local Treks on facebook
White Oaks Trail Map (print it off and take it with you... just in case)
Hawn State Park homepage
How to Take a Great Dayhike
Tiny. Tenacious. Terrible. Ticks.
Missouri State Parks Homepage