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St. Louis, MO: Pickle Springs

Hoodoos in Missouri? This 2-mile loop dips into a river valley jam-packed with sandstone formations and trickling cascades—-including the rocky, 50-foot face of Headwall Falls.

Rating

Well worth the hour drive from St. Louis, this clockwise loop begins at a gravel parking lot and heads east for 100 yards before splitting to begin the loop. The recommended clockwise approach heads downhill and turns east through a set of slot canyons toward a forest of formations known as “Cauliflower Rocks,” and past a set of head-high arches. Sub-surface seeping and sheer cliffs combine to create cool, damp conditions that encourage ice-age like species of ferns and mosses on this trail, but also beautiful displays of spring flowers. About a half-mile in, a sturdy wooden bridge crosses Pickle Creek for the first time. 
The east end of the loop dips toward the 50-foot walls of Spirit Canyon at the half-way mark, but mostly traverses a forested trail sprinkled with a dusty layer of sand—it’s also flanked by poison ivy, so stick to the trail. Dome Rock and Owl’s Den Bluff overlook the forested valley to the west before the trail descends again to cross Pickle Creek near a delicately dripping fall. The observation platform at Headwall Falls is less than 0.25 mile from the trailhead and is a memorable stop before closing the loop.
-Mapped by Bill Yearout

To Trailhead

From St. Louis, drive south 50 miles on I-55 and take exit 154. Turn right onto MO-O and drive 6 miles before turning right on MO-32. Drive 9.7 miles and turning left on Dorlac Rd. The trailhead parking lot is 1.6 miles ahead on the left.

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