Sometimes you just have to get out on the trail. But Craig, I hear you say, you have said yourself that there is no hiking between Memorial Day and Labor Day because it is too hot, too buggy and most importantly too much poison ivy in Missouri in the Summer. Well you would be right and you would also be right in knowing I never listen to my own advice. If I had, I certainly would not have planned to go out on what was the hottest weekend of the year so far. We all know I am not that bright!
I was guaranteed to have no one on the trail but me and that was true. The forecast was for mid 90's with the same humidity for the weekend and good chance of thunderstorms as this is usually the case, the air can only hold so much moisture and when it gets this hot and humid the big thunderstorms usually come eventually. There was a window of low possibility of storms on Saturday and I took that chance.
If I had ever hiked in St Francois State Park, it would have been so long ago I don't remember it, so I decided to do all the trail miles in the park on an overnight. There are three trails totaling 22 miles. Typical to Missouri the trails go up and onto a ridge and then back down into a creek bed, over and over again. I was pleasantly surprised these trails did stay up on the ridge lines much longer and a good portion that were along the creek beds were very nice and the water was still flowing well (We have had a lot of rain this year)
The main trail in the park is the Pike Run trail. It is about 12 miles with two loops a south loop (6.4) and a north loop (4.2 miles), plus connectors
It is hard not to want to ride your horse on nice trails, but there is a time not too and part of being a responsible trail user is knowing when. As hikers we have different responsibilities but the same when it comes to making sure the trail stays in good shape
Quiz question: what sound does an annoyed turkey make when you happen to walk right under her roost and not see her until she starts?
Answer: They hiss at you, just like a cat only a more guttural hiss.
I had to zoom in from a good distance as she was really annoyed, so I was walking past as fast as I could. As soon as I passed she actually went down into the hollow dead tree she was perched on.
More yummy blackberries
All the creeks on the western side of the south loop were flowing really well and every time you dipped into a hollow, it had a creek.
This side of the south loop goes up and down and up and down about 3 times till you reach the connector to the north loop
I chose the western side of the North Loop as well so I could cut over to the Mooner's Hollow Trail. About a mile and a half you drop down into a hollow and you can see a faint connector leading down to a really nice creek bed
I got some water here and cooled off a bit in the water as the temps were reaching the 90's by 11 am.
As a bonus I did come out just beyond the official turn around point at the end of the official Mooner's trail loop. It was still a good trail so I followed it just a bit looking for a place to cross to connect with the trail on the other side and I found this waterfall cascade. I was really tempted to strip down and just sit in the water for awhile.
Every place the sun could get too had wild flowers
2 miles and I made it to the parking area for the trail. There was a lot of activity as families were picnicking and playing in the creek with small children. It was hot and just past lunch at around 12:45. A good place for food and a rest
I stayed for about an hour and then got everything packed up and off again on the other side of the creek loop back to where I would pick up the Pike Run trail again at the same creek.
Trail right next to the creek
Look closely, can you see Mr. Green Snake. I startled him on the trail and I had real trouble finding him in the grass when he was still.
Made it to the point of the north loop and the high point on this side, found two nice trees for the hammock and proceeded to rest in shade for a few hours until making some dinner.