Best Hikes Near St. Louis
by JD Tanner (Falcon Guides)
© JD Tanner/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
A hidden jewel that surprises you with dramatic scenery, you will think you are in the MO Ozarks. It starts off with rolling farmland, and a grass lane, but descends down. After the first creek crossing, you come to a split. Follow sign to 'Rock Art' to see real life Petraglyphs, the largest collection in IL. Trail continues down more, until the actual Piney Creek, then goes up towards the Petraglyphs, then upward along the ridge, clockwise, and loops back to cross the creek again. During Winter and Spring, you can see views of the canyon floor.
Or, you can walk down into the canyon floor, for the most dramatic scenery in the State of IL, tall canyon walls, shut in style erosion, mini-waterfalls. If you hike along the creek - upstream (to the right), you may have to cross a few times, but both sides are accessible to hiking; you can see in advance if it is impassable. (Doing this path, you avoid the petraglyphs - But you can see the petraglyphs and backtrack)
Trail is easy to follow, including along the canyon floor, you will see green trail markers on each side where the trail crosses the creek again. There's a dead end spur but a green marker that has 'Dead End' written in faded permanant marker.
WARNING! The upper creek crossing leads to a waterfall that has a history of people falling (40 foot drop); If you are the type to explore, please do so without children, and keep in mind that slippery moss is present.
You can also make your way around to the base of the waterfall, with an obsticle course of jagged boulders. In winter if you go upstream about 1/8 mile, there are vines that icecicles grow around. Unsuspecting minds will think that there are 50 foot tall icecicles formed from the top of the cliff.
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