Walking down into Hickory Canyons is like getting tranported suddenly to a new realm. The temperature drops, the flora and fauna change, and unique forms of moss and lichen surround you...


  • Some of the best wet-weather waterfalls in the state. To see it in it’s full glory, there really needs to have been a recent rain (or snow melt) for these to have significant flow but it is always a beautiful and unique area.
  • Best time to visit is late Winter or early Spring after a recent rain.
  • The plants growing in the cool, moist cliff faces and the sandstone canyon floor are not common to Missouri, but rather more resemble the plant species growing in cooler climates thousands of years ago and more commonly seen northeast U.S.
  • Explore amazing canyons carved from ancient Lamotte sandstone.


  • In total, it is only a mile and 1/2 worth of hiking so it is definitely more of a take-your-time-and-explore type hike rather than a way to log a lot of steps. You might want to pair this with another nearby activity such as hiking Pickle Springs (3 miles), visiting Hawn State Park, and/or eating in Historic St. Genevieve.
  • Very little flow in the waterfalls if it’s been dry lately.

Getting There

It is a bit over an hour away (71 miles from U. City). South on I-55 for most of the way. Google provides accurate directions. From 270 and 55, take 55 South for 42 miles to State Rd. O and go right. Take O for 6 miles until it hits 32. Go right on Highway 32 for 2.6 miles to Highway C. Go right (north) about three miles on Highway C and turn left (south) on to Sprott Road (gravel). Head west on Sprott Road for about 1.75 miles to the parking pull-offs.



The box canyons and sandstone cliffs of Hickory Canyons in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, were carved by erosion from the remnants of a shallow ocean that existed over 500 million years ago. The plants growing in the cool, moist cliff faces and the sandstone canyon floor are not common to Missouri, but rather more resemble the vegetation growing in cooler climate thousands of years ago. But what is most amazing about Hickory Canyons are the numerous waterfalls that appear after a heavy rain. Normally dry or relegated to a trickle, the canyon comes to life with gushing water falling down the cliffs into streams formed on the canyon floor.

A nice snippet from the MDC site:

This area is botanically rich, supporting 541 native vascular plant species and 152 bryophyte (liverworts and mosses) species. A number of these species are considered glacial relicts. Glacial relicts are species that were more common in Missouri 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. Since then, the climate has warmed, forcing some species to inhabit micro-climates that mimic the cool, moist conditions of glacial times. Glacial relicts at Hickory Canyons include hay-scented fern, fir clubmoss and winterberry. The area is rich in fern species with over a dozen species represented.