60 Hikes within 60 Miles: St. Louis
by Steve Henry (Menasha Ridge Press)
© 2010 Steve Henry/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.
This weekend hike was an uxepected gem the previous day's weather was torrential rain with flash flood warnings, our four hour journey from Memphis to the park was driven in the rain but when reaching the park it had stopped. upon our arrival the camping area was full and busy so we decided to start the trail and find a spot en-route. some reviews don't live up to their writers comments but the Whispering Pines ten mile Loop was a great experience in perfect weather conditions, good camp sites and very well maintained trails truly take you through a number of differing habitats now we began to understand why this park was popular in October. There is something for everyone whether novice or experienced you will find a trail that's enjoyable and interesting we shall be returning for a winter hike here in January.
Our group consisted of seven ladies. The morning started out rather chilly turned warmed just enough to be perfect for the hike. We intended to walk the six mile portion of the Whispering Pines Loop. The first portion of the trail followed alongside Pickle Creek Some places were a little rocky. The scenery was great and as noted in SmokdDog's account, we had quite a lot of rain in the previous two days.
The trail was in excellent shape in spite of that fact and the creek was rushing more than it probably would have been. At one point the only way to continue on that portion of the trail was to cross the creek.
We did cross it several times, but this place was deeper than we cared to cross to we went to plan B,
through the woods. The leaves on the trees were really just beginning to turn. I took 140 photos along the way. (a handful are posted here. Email me if you would like the link to the whole album as well as many of my other trail outings of this summer & fall)
This is a beautiful park any time of the year. It offers several trail choices, great campsites as well as backpack camping. My parents have camped there often. I understand now why they loved going there.
Great trail. Well marked except for the very southern part of the South Loop. Great primitive campsites.
This trail is by far one of the most beautiful I have hiked in the Midwest. Throughout the trail the scenery changes and provides something new to look at all day long.
I overnighted halfway on the trail for one night.
I had one major problem on this trail. At the time of year I went--late May, the ticks were terrible. I am not afraid of ticks or bugs but this was too much to manage. I picked off at least 100 ticks from my body over 2 days. My dog was with me and he was covered with ticks -- I picked off 600+ from him (It took 12 hours). Frontline does paralyze the ticks once they bite but you still have to pick them off. The problem for me was I couldn't get enough ticks off the dog before getting in the tent so the ticks crawled on me all night long--it was a bad horror movie. I did learn that ticks like to be warm as they seemed to make a beeline (or a tickline) for my sleeping bag.
So go to this beautiful place without a dog or talk to the locals about tick season before you go.
Hiked Pickle Creek / Whispering Pines north loop on May 12, took about 6 hours with our 5-year-old. The Pickle Creek section is very wet & muddy after spring rains, slow going. We hiked counterclockwise as recommended by Steve Henry, best to slog through the mud early in the day...Saw beautiful spiderwort, ferns, and yes we even spotted a blue-tailed skink. Incredibly diverse terrain, one minute you're deep in the heart of the Ozarks, half mile later you feel like you're in the middle of a Georgia pine forest. Easy access from I-55. If you're coming from the north, don't miss Hickory Canyons Natural Area for a short jaw-dropping hike you won't soon forget.
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