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Three Gems (Got Two Of Three)


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A couple of weeks ago my family and I planned an all day trip around MDC's three gems:

http://mdc.mo.gov/co...0/01/three-gems

We started out at Hickory Canyons. GREAT little trail. If you are in the area after a rain, you should go because there should be a really high waterfall. Recommend you go right at the trail head and save the best for last. We ate some lunch and moved to the next spot.

We then went to Pickle Springs NA. We were surprised to find a completely full parking lot of a couple dozen cars. This is a small out of the way area so there must have been an event of some sort. We decided to move on and save it for another trip.

We finished at Amidon NA. We didn't really hike the trail. We followed it to the Castor River Shut Ins and then ventured on our own. I realize it is old hat for a lot of you, but it was a simple awesome place to walk around, explore, take pics and have fun. Since we didn't complete pickle springs, we spent the rest of the day at the Shut Ins.

I'll try to post some pics later, but the three gems (two out of three for me) does make for a great one day trip.

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Pickle Springs is always a popular area. We use it from time to time for family pics, especially this time of the year when color starts. It is great in the spring also. You should have did the hike. There are some pretty views.

Pink Rock, Hahn's Mill, Amidon, used to be one of my favorite places 20 some years ago. Nice place to lay in the river and relax, kind of a mini Johnson Shutins. The only place I have come across a collared lizard in MO. I still go there from time to time in the spring looking for outdoor edibles.

"Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously."

Hunter S. Thompson

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  • 3 weeks later...

That's right in my neck of the woods. We go to Pickle Spring a lot just to get some exercise in a beautiful setting, and we go to Hickory Canyons almost as much.

Did you hike both trails at Hickory Canyon? That property includes another set of box canyons that neither trail goes to. My wife's parents' family farm is very near the "back country" of Hickory Canyons, and we often hike over to the waterfalls that aren't on the trail. If you have a topo map of the area, the box canyons show up well on the map.

Amidon gets my vote for the most beautiful shut-in, based upon the colors of the rocks in bright sunlight. Go there in the winter on a sunshiny day when the green of the pines contrasts spectacularly with the salmon-colored rocks.

Sorry I'm so late on this post...forgot that we had a hiking board and I never scroll down this far!

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Did you hike both trails at Hickory Canyon?

The map showed another trail on the parking lot side of the street, but I couldn't find the trail head. Is that the second trail you are referring to?

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Sorry I'm so late on this post...forgot that we had a hiking board and I never scroll down this far!

Yea Phil, I demand higher billing. :secret-laugh:

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I never search down thru the forums each time, I just hit the "view new content" button on the right of the top banner and all posts appear since the last time on.

"Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously."

Hunter S. Thompson

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Yeah...the trail on the parking lot side of the road is short, only a half mile or so, but goes to a very nice box canyon waterfall. Don't know how you missed the trailhead, though.

A note on the other box canyons...at one time, you could get to them off a gravel road leading off of Hwy. EE, where there was a small parking lot and trailhead. This was not long after Leo Drey acquired the land and opened it up to the public. But unfortunately, there was too many pinheads going in and spray-painting the bluffs and doing other really stupid things to trash the place. So Drey and MDC decided to close that area and open up the one on Sprott Road. The other box canyons are really the most spectacular ones, but there is only one narrow strip of LAD Foundation land connecting that parcel to the one that's open now, so finding your way to the other box canyons without trespassing on somebody else's land requires good topo maps and a plat map.

This complex of sandstone box canyons is a part of the Lamotte Sandstone, the oldest sedimentary rock formation in the Ozarks. Only the granites and other igneous rocks of the St. Francois Mountains are older rock than this sandstone. Pickle Spring and Hawn State Park are in the same sandstone (with the granites popping up in Hawn as well). The Lamotte makes for some of the most interesting rock formations in Missouri, including a number of REALLY neat formations that are, unfortunately, on private land and fairly jealously guarded against trespass by the landowners. I've been to about all of them...some with permission, others where I kept a low profile. The book, Geological Oddities and Curiosities of Missouri, by Tom Beveridge, lists most of them. Mostly, the consist of box canyons, some deep, narrow, winding canyons, and some isolated, weathered rock knobs and mounds that are erosional remnants of harder sandstone left as the softer sandstone weathered away around them. You'll see several of these remnant knobs along the loop trails of Hawn Park and Pickle Spring. Maybe the coolest ones, however, are just outside the park boundary, including Chimney Rocks, a huge cluster of rock columns up to 80 feet high, and Rattlesnake Rock, a great mass of weathered sandstone that just appears to have been dropped on an otherwise gently rolling wooded area, which includes a natural bridge with a 20 foot span, 9 feet high and with a three foot thick roof, the Balancing Rock, a 7 foot tall stone atop a 2 foot pedestal, and the Devil's Fretwork, with another small arch and "windows".

A third formation, maybe not as impressive but one of my favorites, is Wild Hog Bluff. It's on private land just outside Hawn Park, along the upper River Aux Vases. That section of stream is spectacular, with intricate entrenched meanders in a canyon almost completely lined with cliffs. Wild Hog Bluff is one of those erosional remnants of harder sandstone that actually sits atop a lower cliff along the creek, a thick rock spire 50 feet higher than the rest of the cliff and with an interesting shape at the top that reminds you just a bit of a boar's head.

Even with all the public land in that area, it's unfortunate that there isn't more public land, because there are so many very interesting and spectacular places that are private, such as the granite shut-ins along Jonca Creek, the creek you cross on the road into Hawn Park. These shut-ins include a beautiful 80 ft. high sheer granite bluff, and two waterfalls, one that is about 5 feet high and another that is 8 feet high.

However, MDC and DNR have acquired a good part of the watershed of upper Pickle Creek. If you have a plat map showing land ownership, it is possible to take a long hike from Pickle Spring Natural Area to the parking lot at Hawn Park without ever getting off public land. You can't follow the creek the whole way, but it's a great bushwhacking hike (mostly no trail) that Mary and I have done a couple of times.

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