Pickle Springs (Revisited) and Hickory Canyon

For February, we are having some wonderful weather in St. Louis! As I was expecting a high in the high 50s, my father and I headed out for a hike at Pickle Springs Natural Area and Hickory Canyons near Ste. Genevieve County and Farmington, Missouri. I had hiked Pickle Springs last January and ever since my father had been asking to see the ice there. It was as beautiful as I remembered.

My father and I accidentally went the wrong way on the trail, which caused some confusion around the Keyhole where we backtracked on ourselves without realizing it for a few minutes. Some of the trail was clear, most of it was very muddy, and some of the trail still had snow and ice on it which made traversing some of the steeper sections very tricky. My father and I shared the hiking poles I received for Christmas, each taking one to help us keep our balance and stop from falling on the ice and snow-- this made what I remember being a fairly easy hike a bit more challenging. The ice from the overhangs were impressive, and all around us I could hear the dripping of the melting icicles. The streams and creeks were also running so we often had to pick our way across stones, which was enjoyable and tested my hiking boots for waterproofness. As we climbed between the rocks around us, you could feel the temperature change noticeably. We only saw a couple people on the trail, which was really nice, and we took our time admiring the views. A red fox darting across our path about halfway through the trail was a highlight for me!

I had never visited Hickory Canyons before, but because it was all of 5 miles away from Pickle Springs, it seemed silly to pass it up. There are two trails, a short out and back trail and a longer loop trail. We did the loop trail and immediately the trail begins to descend down into the canyon with the rocks raising up on either side of you. The trail had become a stream of water running downhill, mostly runoff from the melting snow. It was extremely muddy and a bit slippery, but beautiful nonetheless. It actually reminded me a bit of the Little Grand Cayon hike I did back in November, with a steep descent and then a trek through the flat land below. It was beautiful and mildly challenging because of the mud and snow, and my father and I really enjoyed ourselves! We only did about half of the short out and back trail because it was crowded by a family looking for lost dogs and it was only another .25 miles anyhow.

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