Located near other spectacular hiking areas in Missouri such as Pickle Springs and Hawn State Park is a less well known hidden gem. Hickory Canyons Natural Area shares some of the the same scenery with dramatic box canyons, dripping waterfalls, and lush vegetation.
This area is beautiful in all seasons. Spring and summer bring waterfalls and lots of green. A cold enough winter means dramatic ice formations are possible. A dusting of snow can turn the area in a winter dreamland.
Parking for both trails is in a small gravel area along Sprott road. If you aren’t looking carefully, you may miss it. The area actually consists of two trails. One trail is a 1/4 each way and leads to a tall seasonal waterfall in a box canyon. The other trail makes a one mile loop dropping in and out of a canyon and along a pretty little stream.
Hickory Canyons Natural Area
- Length: 1/4 mile out and back on east side of road. 1 mile loop on west side.
- Difficulty: 3/5. Moderate inclines up and down into canyons. Rocky in some sections and can be muddy. Several side trails can be confusing.
- Scenic Value: 4/5. A great one year round.
East Side 1/4 mile Trail
We like to start with the shorter trail first. The path heads downhill and past a sign board with a map of the trail. After the sign board, the trail will split left and right. The right path leads along the bluff edge with a view of the canyon from above. Use caution if you proceed along this path. The left path will wind down to view the box canyon and waterfall from below.
The left trail passes underneath a large overhang about halfway down the trail. The first view of the box canyon waterfall comes into view.
It takes a large amount of rainfall to see the waterfall with much flow. It took me several attempts and a good 1.5+ inches of rain to get a good shot of the flowing water. It was still raining while hiking that day, but worth it to see this waterfall in its glory.
During periods of heavy rain, other surprise waterfalls pop up all along the bluffs in this canyon.
Even if the falls are but a trickle, this is a beautiful spot. Several side trails meander around the area and along the bluff line.
A major freeze can turn the waterfall even more dramatic. Use caution as the trail can be icy and always look up to avoid going underneath large icicles which could fall.
After enjoying the views on this trail, retrace your steps back to the parking lot and cross the road for the 1 mile trail.
West Side 1 Mile Loop Trail
The trail can be hiked either direction. Another sign and map are present near the start.
If you head left to hike clockwise, the trail starts out mostly level as it winds through the trees.
The trail eventually reaches the bluff area and a set of steps.
A few side trails branch off here to travel along the edges of the bluff and along the canyon on the right.
The main trail continues off to the left and passes along another overhang.
The trail soon reaches a pretty little stream. The trail with pass back and forth across the stream and alongside it.
Kids will enjoy several areas to splash in during warmer weather. A few small little waterfalls can be found along this stretch as well.
After the last creek crossing, the trail starts to head back uphill. This section is the most rugged and also one of the prettiest.
The trail starts to level back out as it near the end of the loop.
Things to know before you go:
- Parking for the trailhead is located on Sprott Road halfway between Highway C and Highway EE near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
- The site is open 4:00 a.m. – 10 p.m.
- There are no restrooms here. The nearest restroom is at the Midway gas station near Weingarten.
- Dogs are allowed on leashes
- Use caution near any bluff edges
- Pack out what you bring in and leave no trace