- The scenic Pickle Creek winds it’s way through Granite Shut-ins providing beautiful cascades and waterfalls that are easy to access.
- Some of the best hiking in the state with options for 2-mile, 6-mile, and 10-mile loops that involve beautiful creeks, sandstone bluffs and canyons, and majestic scenic overlooks.
- Nice mix of very nice, large, wooded camping sites that include great options for all preferences. They have 51 campsites, a mix of basic, electric, and premium electric, in the main campsite, plus 3 backpacking sites and a large special use camping area for groups.
- Lots of great spots to enjoy a relaxing meal at one of the many picnic tables that dot the sandy, pine-covered woodland floor.
- Great place to try out backpacking with 3 nice backpacking sites. Be aware though that the sites are first-come, first-served and may be occupied on nice weekends during the main season. But you can always camp anywhere in Missouri State Parks as long as you are 100 yards from the trail and creeks.
- Hawn State Park is one of the most popular State Parks so the campsites do fill-up at times and the Pickle Creek Trail can get a bit busy at times but that’s never hindered my enjoyment of this beautiful park.
Getting ThereJust over an hour away down I-55 and off to the West a bit. Google maps will get you there efficiently. Drive south on I-55 to O (exit 154). Turn right and follow O for 6 miles where it hits 32. Follow 32 for 5.5 miles until you see signs for the Park.
For most, Pickle Creek is the main draw that makes Hawn State Park so popular for so many. Hiking along and wading into the many waterfalls and cascades created by the many granite shut-ins of Pickle Creek provides for a idyllic experience. Be careful though, wet, mossy granite is SLIPPERY. Closer to the main campground, the River Aux Vases runs along the lime stone bluffs and provides one of the best places for kids to explore that I’ve ever experienced. The sandy-bottom, very shallow river that winds it’s way through dense shaded woods along towering bluffs is just spectacular place for kids to fully engage in nature on a warm or hot summer day.
Additionally, the The Whispering Pine trail offers panoramic vistas, sandstone canyons and bluffs, majestic stands of shortleaf pine trees, climbs to highland glades, a variety of wet creek crossings, and much more. The Whispering Pine trail is primarily composed of two loops. The first loop is the 6-mile North Loop which you can embark on from the trailhead or from the end of the Pickle Creek trail. The South Loop starts from about the halfway point of the North Loop and lets you add an additional 4 miles to your hike and includes access 2 additional backpacking spot, another nice creek with 2 water crossings, and a spectacular scenic overlook.
If you are seeking lonely solitude, you generally will not find it on the Pickle Creek trail on weekends during the warm months. In my experience, it’s never been particularly crowded (nothing like Johnson Shut-ins) and the people are friendly and the “crowd” just isn’t really a problem. At worst, some of my favorite spots along Pickle Creek are already occupied so I have to move onto others (or share). You can definitely get away from people on the south loop of the Whispering Pine trail if a 10 mile hike is your thing or the White Oak Trail (which I have yet to explore).