A gentle 9 mile loop near Farmington, Missouri, follow the dirt path over springs and rivers. The sound of water will follow you as you go, the rustling trees will urge you ahead. Stop and listen. The old forests make way for lichen-covered rock formations and wide open vistas.
Get Ready: Hawn State Park is south of St. Louis and Northeast of Farmington. From Farmington you’ll take MO-32 E to MO-144 E. You will continue onto Bauer Road and take a left onto Park Drive until you reach Hawn State Park. This is a long trail so come prepared with snacks and fresh water. Pro tip: There are three campsites along the trail if you want to make a weekend out of it.
Get Set: There will be a large parking lot. Park your car and pay the entrance fee. The trailhead is easy to find. You’ll see a large wooden bridge with rushing water beneath it. Follow that and you’re on your way.
Go: Whispering Pines Loop Trail will start you on the north loop. This is more scenic of the two loops.
It meanders slowly up for about four miles. During this time you’ll cross streams, marching along rivers and near ridged vistas. The highest point on the trail is the four mile mark at almost 1000 feet.
At that point you’ll head quickly down, but don’t be fooled. The rest of the trail is not flat; it’s full of ups and downs that are sure to tire. The views don’t quit. The best part of this trail is the sounds. Close your eyes and listen to the trees talking to you and the streams babbling in the distance.
Effort: This hike could be considered difficult due to its length but as 9 milers go, it’s an easy one. There are a decent amount of ups and downs with plenty of flat parts in between. Your legs are sure to be tired the next day, or even towards the end.
Takeaway: Hawn State Park is one of the most beautiful and scenic parks in Missouri. It’s a must see. Hike here in the spring for a wildflower treat. A winter hike brings a snowy wonderland, autumn colorful trees and summerm lush green. It’s a winner all year round.