Missouri Hikes

Amidon Memorial Conservation Area: Castor River Shut-Ins

Gorgeous. Absolutely, unequivocal beauty. That is what I honestly think about the Castor River Shut-ins area of the Amidon Memorial Conservation Area. In fact, I'm not sure those words can even do it justice, we may need to come up with a new word, just to describe the beauty of the flowing waters and brilliant pink granite rocks that are found there... (click for more)

Amidon Memorial Conservation Area: Hippie Hole

Just a few weeks ago I did a short write up on the Castor River Shut Ins of Amidon, which were located just off the left fork in the road as we entered the Amidon Memorial Conservation Area. It was a quick jaunt down the well groomed and maintained trail to get a look at those gorgeous, smooth pink granite boulders that had been shaped and sculpted for years by the Castor River. After finishing the Jekyll and Hyde trail that looped the left area, I left a little "cliff hanger". What was down the right fork?... (click for more) 

Big Oak Tree State Park

Actual giants reside in a small conservation area near East Prairie, Missouri. These behemoths tower silently over the swampy land. As we strolled among these quiet colossi we gained a unique, native view of Southeast Missouri and were afforded a free trip back in time; as Big Oak Tree State Park is one of few areas that reflects the original swampy land that the early Native Americans and settlers explored and lived in centuries before us, earning it a Missouri tag as a Natural Area... (click for more)

Buford Mountain Conservation Area

In today's world it seems nearly everything moves fast and sometimes it may seem to move too fast. The week may speed by in a blur, leaving you to wonder... What did I do this week? What did I accomplish? Where are my keys? After a week like this, it's time to slow down. Way down. I just so happen to know that Buford Mountain Conservation Area is an extraordinary place to do it, and I will assure you, when you've finished the 10.6 mile loop you'll know what you did, what you accomplished, but your keys... Well, that's on you. (click for more)

Cathedral Canyon (Dark Hollow/Lower Rock Creek)

Cathedral Canyon is a gorgeous and seemingly remote part of the Mark Twain National Forest, that goes by many names.  I prefer to call the area Cathedral Canyon because the serenity and staggering beauty there may only be truly matched by a quiet cathedral. Other hikers and soul seekers may refer to it as Dark Hollow, Lower Rock Creek (this seems to be one of the most accepted names), or even the Trackler Mountain trail, I believe that no matter what you want to call this remote and relatively undisturbed forest, you'll leave calling it magical... (click for more)

Elephant Rocks State Park


I remember coming to Elephant Rocks State Park back when I was twelve years old with my parents, back in the *cough, cough* 80's... Marveling at the mammoth... er... Elephant sized pink granite boulders. Trying my hand at scaling those circus sized freaks, tracing carvings etched over 100 years ago by master masons with my fingers, gazing over the long abandoned quarry now filled with nearly a century's worth of rain, and exploring so much more. So returning as an adult was almost a homecoming, with the Elephants patiently waiting atop their weathered perch... (click for more)

Hawn State Park: White Oaks Trail


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... (click for more)

Juden Creek Conservation Area

We had passed the bird house topped ancient gate and the small sign, pointing the way to Juden Creek hundreds of times. It seemed each time we took a jaunt to Trail of Tears State Park we would say, "We really should drop by there" and then pass on by... But, something was different on a particular Sunday, something made us turn in to Juden Creek Conservation Area, and I'm glad that whatever unforeseen force pushed us to visit the small park did, because the questions raised on our hike provided me a better vision and understanding of the area and even a bit of its history... (click for more)

Millstream Gardens Conservation Area

Millstream Gardens is 916 acres of pure magic. The area holds wonders for nearly every outdoor enthusiast and boasts an appearance more reminiscent of the rushing rivers of Colorado than the rolling hills of Missouri. The wonder and natural beauty of Millstream Gardens and the Tiemann Shut-ins contained therein, beg you to take it slow and savor every sound, especially the steady sound of rare Missouri whitewater, rushing through the smooth carved granite... (click for more)

Pickle Springs Natural Area

Anyone who has hit the trail with their family knows, it isn't always perfect; someone usually is a bit tired, or a bit sore, or a touch cranky, or the weather may turn and sometimes the full beauty of the area (and the hike) simply isn't really revealed. However, I remember Pickle Springs to be darn near perfect and it would be this trip that truly solidified our family's love and appreciation of the outdoors and hiking... (click for more)

Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness

Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness holds the distinction of being Missouri's smallest wilderness area, weighing in at 4,238 acres of beautiful forest located outside of Fredricktown. The trailhead is located off of County Road 406 on Forest Road 2124 in Madison County. I can assure you, finding the trailhead for the wilderness may provide you a journey in itself... (click for more)

Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker is a popular Missouri State Park, let me stress popular... and why the heck not?! This park really seems to have it all, from zipping along on bicycle trails, grilling hotdogs over a campfire, popping a tent at one of two huge camping areas, taking a cooling dip in the clear St. Francis River, to hiking on one of four trails, there is a little something for everyone...(click for more)

Silver Mines Recreation Area

Here's another great site that I discovered on a field trip in college; the Silver Mines Recreation Area, which is part of the Mark Twain National Forest, is located near Fredricktown and Ironton, Missouri. This area is named, ever so aptly, for the abandoned silver mines that are found here that were mined from 1877 through 1946 by the Einstein Silver Mining Company. Given that the operation spewed tons of rocks (leavings or tailings) from deep within the Earth as the miners searched for their target minerals of silver, tungsten and lead, this is a relative Shangri-la for rock hounds, who come from far and wide, rock hammers in hand to see what treasures they may unearth from the rubble... (click for more)

Trail of Tears State Park: Peewah Trail

After experiencing the beauty of Trail of Tears State Park while exploring the three mile Sheppard's Point Trail, we knew that our family would be heading back soon, this time to tackle a more "formidable" foe... The nine mile long Peewah Trail. Now, I say that the Peewah Trail is ten miles, and it is, but the beauty of this trail is that it is split into two completely different trails with two seperate trail heads, that forms a full on (if a bit askew) figure eight. These two sections of the Peewah Trail are simply referred to as the East Loop and the West Loop... (click for more)

Trail of Tears State Park: Sheppard's Point Trail

Trail of Tears State Park, to me, is that "homely" girl in the sappy love movie. You know the one that no one pays any attention to and calls a geek, then, suddenly, she lets down her hair and takes off her glasses to reveal she's smokin' hot! For me, that is the tale of Trail of Tears State Park and this gal seems to have something for everyone: fishing, swimming, horse trails, picnicking, camping, backpacking, beautiful scenic overlooks, bird watching (people "flock" from all over to watch the Bald Eagle migration), Mississippi River access, hiking and so much more!.. (click for more)

Washington State Park

Washington State Park in DeSoto, Missouri, is absolutely amazing. Today the park features a park store, water craft rentals (canoes, rafts, tubes, and kayaks), gravel river banks to river swim from, rental cabins, campgrounds, swimming pool, playgrounds, trails and so much more; it is hard to imagine that it was once home to a group of Mississippian Indians over 600 years ago. It was these Native Americans that literally left their mark on the area in the form of fantastic petroglyphs, which are (for the most part) still undecipherable even today and the petroglyphs here make up 2/3 of the known Missouri carvings!... (click for more)

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