Don Robinson State Park has quickly become a popular hiking destination due to its proximity to St. Louis. While most people tend to explore the Sandstone Canyon Trail, the LaBarque Hills Trail is also worth a hike.
While the LarBarque Hills Trail does not have the dramatic canyons and waterfalls on the Sandstone Trail, it has it’s own sense of beauty as the trail passes up and down hills and around a scenic creek.
If you visit at the right time of year, you may even be lucky enough to spot frost flowers all along the trail. These delicate ice blossoms can be found when the ground is still warm but the air temp is below freezing. When the stems of certain plants break open due to cold temperatures, the plant it still sending up sap from the warmer ground. The sap freezes into intricate shapes once it reaches the air.
Don Robinson LaBarque Hills Trail
- Length: Map says 2.4, our GPS clocked 2.9 miles.
- Difficulty: 3/5. Some moderate ascents and creek crossings, but nothing too difficult.
- Scenic Value: 4/5. Scenic creeks and canyons
- Restrooms: Flush toilets at upper parking area
- Hours: The park is open 7 a.m. – one half hour past sunset.
- Parking: Both the upper paved lot or lower unpaved lot below the overlook are closest to the trailhead. Parking lots are small here, arrive early or a weekday. If the lots are full, try another time.
The trail starts with a mild descent through the woods and across a small stream. The trail is well marked in blue blazes.
After crossing the stream, the loop portion of the trail begins. You can do either direction, we opted to go right and hike counter-clockwise.
The trail winds past several small scenic canyons and drainages.
An old stone dam is located further along the trail. I’m not sure the original purpose of this dam, but with enough rain there is apparently a waterfall here.
The trail then turns left away from the creek area and starts to climb up towards a ridgeline.
Some interesting rock formations are located along this section. The little nooks in the rock make a fun hiding spot for kids.
The trail continues to make a moderate climb through the trees. An out and back side trail branches off to the right and leads to an overlook. We did not take this side trail, but I’ve heard it is best seen when the leaves are off the trees to have a better view.
The trail eventually starts to head downhill and through a pretty grove of pine trees.
The trail then follows along and across areas of exposed rock. This is another highlight of the trail as the various colors and textures of the sandstone are quite interesting. The trail also passes near the creek with plenty of spots for splashing in warmer weather.
After completing the loop portion, it’s a short walk back uphill to the parking area.