Rural Missouri Magazine

Millions of years in the making
Pickle Springs Natural Area, Farmington, MO

by Jarrett Medlin

Pickle Springs Natural Area packs more beautiful scenery into 256 acres than almost any other spot in Missouri. Along a 2-mile trail near Farmington, hikers can see everything from sloping rock formations and cool canyons to rare plants and gently flowing springs.

The area’s beauty is million of years in the making. Its foundation was first formed 500 million years ago, when the beaches of an ancient sea were preserved as Lamotte sandstone.

Deposits covered the rock over time, until erosion started transforming the land. It sculpted arches, tunnels, waterfalls and giant sandstone boulders called hoodoos. Centuries later, mammoths roamed the canyons and fed on the area’s lush vegetation.

Today, visitors follow in the mammoths’ footsteps. Along the way, they see such interesting sites as the Double Arch, the Keyhole (pictured on the cover), Mossy Falls, Spirit Canyon, Dome Rock Overlook and Pickle Spring.

The trail is manageable for even novice hikers and takes only about an hour to complete. And for those who just can’t get their fill of nature in two miles, Hawn State Park is five minutes down the road.

To visit Pickle Springs Natural Area, take Interstate 55 to Highway 32. Go west on Highway 32, past Hawn State Park, and turn south on AA. Follow AA about 1 mile to Dorlac Road and turn left. Go about 1/2 mile along this gravel road to the parking lot at the trailhead.

For more information, log onto or call call (573) 290-5730.

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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