From the Whispering Pines trailhead off Park Drive, follow signs for the North Loop to duck into Hawn State Park’s lush hardwood forest. You’ll hit the first vista of this counterclockwise loop just past mile 0.5, as an opening in the trees leads to a sweeping panorama of woodlands stretching to the north. At mile 1, descend from tree-blanketed bluffs to the picturesque Pickle Creek, which you’ll follow south until the route climbs east at mile 2.4. Continue straight through a four-way junction before reaching spectacular tree-top panoramas from the hike’s highest point (938 feet).
Following your descent, you’ll bypass a turnoff for the South Loop and push north toward another bluff offering additional high-point panoramas. Drop downhill and continue heading north as the trail snakes through a hallway of trees while winding toward an eastern stretch of Pickle Creek. Before reaching the creek, you’ll skirt the edge of pleasant sandstone bluffs looming over the water. Briefly follow Pickle to the south before circling back north to close the loop and reconnect to the trailhead.
Visit Hawn State Park’s homepage for more information.
-Mapped by Greg Porter
Trailhead: From I 55 S, take exit 154 and turn right at State Rd. O. Follow for 6 miles. Turn right at MO 32 W and follow for 5.2 miles. Turn left on Miller Switch Rd. and follow for 0.3 miles before turning left at MO-144 E. After 2.9 miles, turn left at Park Dr. Trailhead is on right in 1.2 miles.