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I admit I like winter. The cold, crisp air, the snow, the ice—I love it all. And with the right clothes, I love taking winter hikes. It's way better than the heat and bugs of the summer. The other bonus is that very few people are willing to hit the trails in the winter. It's pretty, and you get a chance to see things you don't see in the summer. I'm a fan of that deadening quiet that winter drapes on our local parks. There are just so many delicious places to winter hike in the 573.  

Hawn State Park

Hawn State Park is one of the loveliest parks in a system full of beautiful parks. Clear, sand-bottomed streams, wild areas, and awe-inspiring views combine to make Hawn a 573 treasure. Geology buffs love Pickle Creek for the number of exposed rock types. Hikers frequent the Whispering Pine Wild Area for its quiet trails with expansive views. Many visitors believe Hawn State Park is the loveliest of Missouri's state parks. It is truly a nature lover's paradise, and when the creek freezes over, there are great photos to be had. Off Hwy. 32 between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington.

Hickory Canyons Conservation Area 

Two trails in Hickory Canyons Natural Area offer exciting views of the area's distinctive bluffs and canyons. In the winter, the ice waterfalls are super cool. Do not hang around under the massive icicles. Take Highway 32 west from Ste. Genevieve or east from Farmington to Route C. Go north 3 miles and turn left on Sprott Road. Travel west 1.5 miles to the parking lot at 8388 Sprott Road.

Hughes Mountain Nature Area

The Devil's Honeycomb Trail explores a vast meadow on the massive dome-like outcropping of pre-Cambrian rock caps Hughes Mountain. The pinkish, multi-sided rhyolite columns for which the trail is named formed when ancient lava flows cooled and contracted. Pleasant mountain breezes sweep the rocky expanse, and panoramic vistas stretch away in three directions, making Hughes Mountain an ideal place to admire the sunset. From Hwy. 21 north from Caledonia, turn right on Hwy M to the Big River.

Amidon Memorial Conservation Area, aka Pink Rock

Amidon is located on the Castor River with 1,630 acres of pure beauty. A 1-mile trail winds to the formations created by the granite shut-ins, the beauty of which is magnificent. Hwy. 72 east from Fredericktown to Hwy. J, then right on Hwy. W to County Road 253. 

Sam A. Baker State Park 

Located in Patterson in Wayne County, Sam A. Baker offers an unspoiled, breathtaking landscape of the St. Francois Mountains, one of the oldest mountain regions of North America. The views are spectacular. The stream is crystal clear. Throw a little snow at Sam A Baker, and it becomes a winter wonderland. Off Hwy. 67 near Piedmont.

Millstream Gardens 

Located about 8 miles west of Fredericktown, this 684-acre area is home to Tiemann Shut-ins, which are igneous rocks that the St. Francis River has carved. The hiking trail of the same name is paved and handicap accessible and covers about one mile. Off Hwy. 72 between Fredericktown and Ironton.  

Pickle Springs Natural Area 

Few may realize that because of the geologic features and flora found here, Pickle Springs has been designated a national natural landmark. It is a unique treasure with its incredible, moist canyons and the unparalleled beauty of sandstone formations and bluffs. There is a 2-mile-long trail that winds through these beautiful monuments that time and nature have sculpted. Winter hikers can catch massive ice cycles during cold weather. I mean massive. It's 5 miles east of Farmington, take Hwy. 32 to Hwy—AA to Dorlac Road.  

Elephant Rocks State Park 

This state park remains a favorite of visitors everywhere, with its gigantic granite boulders, which many say look like a train of circus elephants. These giant rocks were formed by volcanic magma that nearly surfaced, and time and weather have shaped them into what we see today. The 132-acre park also features a one-mile-long braille trail. Climbing on the rocks in icy conditions could be hazardous. At the junction of Hwy. 221 and Hwy. 21, go two miles north on Hwy. 21 in Iron County.  

Ball Mill Resurgence Loop

Ball Mill is located on the northern edge of the Missouri ecoregion known as Perry County Karst. This hiking loop is lots of fun with sinkholes, a pond, streams, and a resurgence.  From Interstate 55 south to Highway 51, turn east into Perryville to Highway 61. Turn north on Highway 61 and about one-half mile to Route V. Turn. Turn east, go 2.8 miles to a fork in the road, and take the east fork onto Perry County Route 916. It is about a mile to the Ball Mill Resurgence parking area and the Shafer Tract on the side of the road. 

Trail of Tears State Park

Trail of Tears State Park is a public recreation area covering 3,415 acres bordering the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. It has many hiking trails and a killer overlook of the Mississippi River. Address: 429 Moccasin Springs Rd, Jackson, MO 63755

Magnolia Hollow Conservation Area 

This rugged 1,740-acre area features 5-mile and 2-mile hiking trails. The trails are a great way to see the mighty Mississippi River, and they include steep bluffs and scenic panoramas of the river. Take Hwy. 61 north from Ste. Genevieve to Hwy. V, then east on V to White Sand Road.

St. Francois State Park 

This beautiful 2,735-acre state park is located on Hwy. 67 north of Bonne Terre presents many opportunities if you love to walk or hike. The 11-mile trail includes a 6.7-mile southern loop and a 4.3-mile northern loop. Mooner's Hollow Trail is a 2.7-mile loop that begins and ends in the picnic area. Missouri Trail is a relatively short hiking trail. 

Washington State Park 

Petroglyphs, quaint hiking shelters, and incredible Ozark overlooks define the Washington State Park experience. The park's three hiking trails address every type of hike, from leisurely strolls to power hikes. North of Potosi on State Hwy. 104.

Put your earmuffs on and GET OUT THERE!

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Be sure to visit all of our awesome sponsors who make these stories possible!

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