The rugged canyons and clear creeks of Missouri’s LaBarque Creek Watershed offer many options for recreation. Don Robinson State Park is perhaps the most popular place for hiking in this area. However, if you want to escape the state park crowds and explore unique features, check out the LaBarque Creek Conservation Area.
This LaBarque Creek Conservation Area consists of one hiking trail. The path has a small out-and-back portion followed by a loop.
LaBarque Creek Trail
- Distance: 3 miles round trip
- Difficulty: 4/5. Trail has several hills. Can be muddy and slick in spots. Trail can sometimes become more overgrown in summer.
- Scenic Value: 4/5. A nice creek with some waterfalls in wet weather times.
Reaching the Trailhead
The trail is reached by parking in a parking area along Valley Drive just outside Eureka. The parking area is a good size. You will find access to the trail across the road with a large sign and bridge.
The LaBarque Creek Hike
The hike begins by crossing the sturdy bridge over the clear waters of LaBarque Creek. This is a fun spot for kids to splash and play before and after your hike as the water is shallow.
The hike climbs a wooden set of stairs and starts off running parallel to the creek. This stretch can be muddy after heavy rain but the added stairs have helped alleviate some of the slipping and sliding of past visits.
During spring and summer, wildflowers dot the sides of the trail especially near the creek section.
Soon the loop portion of the trail begins. You can go either direction, but the trail is signed to turn left and hike clockwise. If you wanted to get to the waterfalls quicker, you could turn right here instead.
Hiking the Loop Portion
Heading left and hiking clockwise, the path winds through the woods and makes several decent hill climbs. There are trail markers to help count off your distance along the trail.
In the middle of all the hill climbs, the trail passes between an interesting jumble of large rocks.
Near the halfway point, the trail turns to head back north again and winds its way closer to a small stream.
The Unique Hole-in-the Rock Waterfall
Just before the trail makes a hard right turn and crosses across a rock area, look off to your left and down a small rock bluff. If there has been a recent rain, you should see a hole in a sandstone ledge and a small waterfall pouring down into the hole.
If you wish to get a closer look, carefully look for a way to scramble down the short drop to the creek below. When we visited, there was even a rope tied to a tree to assist in climbing up and down the rocks. The kids thought this was quite a fun natural slide!
Down on the creek level, you may see several other small waterfalls depending on how much rain has fallen.
If the water is dry, you can still have an adventure by exploring under the little shelter cave formed in the sandstone.
Completing the LaBarque Creek Trail
After exploring the creek area, use the rope or scramble up the rocks back to the trail.
The trail continues through the trees and crosses some exposed rock.
Another interesting section of the trail crosses a large section of exposed sandstone with a small stream. This is a really great place for kids to cool off and play.
The trail meanders through the woods and across another cascading waterfall before turning left at the end of the loop portion to run parallel to LaBarque Creek again. Follow the trail back down the steps and across the bridge to return to the parking area.
Additional Things to Know
- The conservation area is open daily 4:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
- Hunting is allowed here so it may be best to pick a different trail in hunting season or wear blaze orange.
- A park map can be found here.
- There are no restrooms.
- Always be sure to pack out what you bring in and be sure to leave no trace.
Have you ever seen a waterfall like this one?