If you ever want to escape the city, and spend some time out in the woods surrounded by nature, check out these great hiking locations that aren’t too far from St. Louis.
Before we get started on locations, here’s just a few tips before you hit the trails.
- Always bring water. You think you don’t need it because it’s a relatively short hike? Bring it anyway. I never go out on a trail without an adequate amount of water. You may not drink it all, but you never want to end up in a situation where you’re wishing you would have brought it.
- Wear decent shoes. Don’t go out on a hike with your cheap flip flops. Be smarter than that. For shorter hikes you don’t need the expensive hiking boots, but at least wear some decent tennis shoes. For the longer more strenuous hikes a good pair of boots can save your feet a lot of pain, and make your hike more enjoyable.
- Download the AllTrails app! I promise, you won’t regret it. Not all trails are marked well, and this app will provide you with a map of each trail, and will also record your hike, so you can see your movements as you’re hiking. It’s a great tool to find the trail, and make sure you’re on the right track. It will also record your miles hiked, moving time, resting time, elevation gain, among all sorts of other things! You can also search trails near you, and find lots of awesome trails you never knew about. And best of all? It’s free! They do offer more advanced options for a fee, but the free version is great as well!
All the trails in this article are trails I’ve personally hiked, and enjoyed them enough to want to go back!
Sandstone Canyon Trail – Don Robinson State Park
Don Robinson State Park is a fairly new state park right outside of St. Louis, and it is beautiful! I’ve hiked both trails at the park, but Sandstone Canyon Trail was my favorite. The trail is listed as a 3.9 mile loop, and is rated as moderate. The trail is well marked and easy to follow.
I spent part of the hike down in the canyon, and my mileage came out to 4.5 miles. You definitely want to spend part of the hike down in the canyon if possible. That’s where all the beautiful water features are, and you don’t want to miss them! The best time to go is after a good rain. It will be a bit muddy and slippery, but you’ll get to see the full effect of the water features. If you do plan on going down in the canyon, be prepared to walk through some shallow water, and make some jumps to avoid getting in a bit deeper water.
I hiked this trail in the beginning of April, and although Spring had not fully arrived yet, the trail had plenty of color because there was so much covered in luscious green moss! Absolutely beautiful!
Labarque Hills Trail – Don Robinson State Park
This is the second trail at Don Robinson State Park. It’s a great trail, and this one you can do pretty easily with kids! It is listed as a 2.9 mile loop, and is rated as moderate. The trail is well marked and easy to follow. This trail is not only shorter, but it was also easier terrain than the Sandstone Canyon trail.
I hiked this in the month of January with my then 5 and 6 year old girls, and they did great on it! There was only very little complaining towards the end of the hike, but that’s to be expected when hiking with small children.
There’s a cool little feature built a little ways off the trail, and some hidden rolls of paper with lists of past hikers as well! Be sure to add your names to the list, and pay attention on the trail so you don’t miss it!
Whispering Pines Trail – Hawn State Park
This hike is a little further out, but definitely worth the drive! This trail is listed as a 9.2 mile loop trail, consisting of two loops, and is rated as hard. The first loop is roughly 6 miles, and the second loop is approximately 3.75. I know, that doesn’t add up, but that’s how it’s listed. When I hiked this trail, it came out to be 11.3 miles. We did lose the trail for a little while though, which added a bit onto our miles.
Remember that AllTrails app I suggested? We weren’t paying attention to it, which is how we got off track, but it did help us find the trail again! Obviously, this trail has some places that aren’t clearly marked, so it’s best to have something to keep you on track, whether it be an app or a good old fashioned map and compass.
This trail has a lot of deep water crossings, and some shallower ones, so be prepared to get a little wet! We hiked this trail in the beginning of May after some significant rain, and the river was raging! There was no way we could safely cross where the trail actually was. We headed up river and found a fallen tree that we were able to use to cross the river safely.
There was a few other crossings that caused us to have to wander around till we found a good place to cross, and a couple more shallow ones that I actually took my boots off and crossed barefoot, in order to keep my boots as dry as possible. They were still soaked by the end of the trail, but at least I tried.
This trail was an adventure, but an absolutely breathtaking one! The views on the trail are absolutely incredible, and you get to experience several different types of terrain, plus all kinds of waterfalls! It was well worth the effort, and I look forward to hiking it again!
1,000 Steps Trail – Washington State Park
This trail is a 1.5 mile loop trail, and is rated as moderate. The trail is well marked, and easy to follow. This trail is named after the 1,000 steps you climb on the trail, and if it’s not exactly a 1,000 steps, it sure feels like it! For such a short hike, it provides a decent workout.
This is a great trail to take kids on! We hiked this trail in late April with 4 kids ranging in ages from 4 to 8, and they all did great.
The trail was absolutely stunning, and covered in wildflowers! If you’re looking for a longer hike, Washington State Park has several other trails in the park to choose from as well.
This is just a short list, but I hope you have a chance to try out these hikes, and that you enjoy them as much as I did! Keep an eye out for future articles with more amazing hikes in Missouri!
Photo Credits: Lesley Day and Jennifer Dixon