St Francois State Park

Bonne Terre, Missouri 63628

St Francois State Park

St. Francois State Park Professional Review and Guide

"Legend has it that Civil War outlaws took cover in the hills and hollows of St. Francois State Park, which is known as “Yesterday’s Hideout, Today’s Retreat.” Later, moonshiners concealed stills along the banks of Coonville Creek in Mooner’s Hollow and secretively worked their trade. Today, you can explore the park on 17 miles of trail."

St. Francois State Park Reviews

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This is a great 3 mile loop trail. The falls are at the 1.2 mile mark. The trail is pretty steep and rocky. It is strenuous when compared to the other paved trails in the area. If you are used to hiking in the Ozarks this trail is about average in difficulty. The waterfall was mostly frozen but still had a pretty good flow. Parking was easy to find and the road goes right past the campground and the highpoint viewpoint.
Enjoyable though very strenuous. Waterfall pretty well dried up though easy to imagine it in flood.
I went to view the falls, specifically hoping to find them frozen, and was not disappointed. The temps were just above freezing and it was a sunny day, so there was a lot of water flowing under the ice, making kind of a hypnotic visual and auditory experience; and the ice makes for its own nice pictures. However, I found four things of note for the hiking experience. First, while the hike isn't technically challenging, there is a lot of walking on non-level ground like boulders, so hiking boots are a good idea for ankle support. Second, as noted by others, this is a wet weather waterfall, so I'd recommend wearing a different pair of shoes and changing into the hiking boots just for the hike as they are quite likely to get muddy if the falls are running. Third, during the winter (as I experienced), there can be sloped ice patches leaning toward ledges overlooking 20-30 foot drops, so extra caution is recommended. Fourth, the trail markers point hikers looking for Mina Sauk falls toward the upper falls, which I estimate are about 25 feet tall...very pretty, but not particularly high; if you hike further down toward Devil's Tollgate (not particularly impressive itself for anyone other than a geologist), there is a much larger waterfall about 1/4 mile below the noted falls.
We hiked the Mina Sauk Trail expecting to see a magnificent waterfall. However, not until we arrived did we learn that the waterfall only runs in wet weather! When we made it to the "waterfall", there was nary a drop of water to be seen. Nonetheless, the hike is an excellent day hike, and easily extended by continuing on the Ozark Trail.
trail is moderate to difficult, well maintained, and well cared for by the users (found very little litter on the trail). the waterfall is beautiful, it had only a little flow since it is a wet-season falls, but was beautiful nonetheless. well worth a day-trip; other trails in the area can make for a weeks worth of hiking.
I took the trail that joins Taum Sauk with Johnsons Shut Ins state parks and enjoyed the weekend. It is not very difficult, however, the area surrounding the waterfall is extremely rocky and demands your caution. There some nice views and ample water so it is a "comfortable" trail and would be good to take the kids or gain some experience for beginners.

St. Francois State Park Photos

Trail Information

Bonne Terre
Nearby City
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
3–7 hours
St. Francois State Park
Local Contacts
Bonne Terre USGS topo
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018