Location: From Hwy 67 go south (from the St. Louis area) to Farmington, MO to the Hwy 32 East exit (or down I-55 to the Hwy 32 West Exit). Then go East(from Farmington) or West(from I-55) on Hwy 32 for approximately 10 miles to Hwy 144 then about 4 miles south on Hwy 144. Watch for the Park signs on Hwy 32 as you approach the turn-off.
Distance: The Whispering Pine Trail is a 10 mile trail made up of a 6 mile north loop and a 4 mile south loop to give a combined total of 10 miles if you hike the outside of both loops. This trail also adjoins the one-mile Pickle Creek Trail.
Water: Water is readily available in Pickle Creek, a beautiful clear stream, but you will need to filter or treat it. One will hike along Pickle Creek on the west side of the north loop.
Parking: Overnight parking is available at the trailhead in the park.
Comments: I had always heard that this was a beautiful trail and I finally found out first hand that it is very beautiful. The hike along Pickle Creek and the bluffs on the west side of the north loop was spectacular and well worth the trip. It often gets crowded in this park due to its proximity to St. Louis so take off during the week and go when it is quiet. My hiking partner and I only ran into one person during our trek along the north loop. The Pickle Creek valley cuts through the granite and the rimrock (Lamotte Sandstone) makes some spectacular bluffs and offers some beautiful views of the creek valley below. A few shut-in areas along the creek make for a great picture and a peaceful stop to ponder the beauty of the place. Evans Knob on the east side of the north loop offered a great place to sit and enjoy lunch and look out over the surrounding hills with nothing but forest to view. This will be a great place to view the fall foilage in October. There are three established campsites along the trail, one on the north loop and two on the south loop along an intermittent stream. Check with the ranger about water availability in the streams as they could get dry during our dry summers. When you leave Evans Knob and continue hiking north back towards the park campground you walk along an intermittent stream that will have many small waterfalls and cascades during wetter weather. Today there were only stagnant pools below the many mini-falls. Groups of seven or more must camp in the designated sites but smaller groups may camp anywhere as long as they are 100 feet from the trail, 200 feet from other use areas, and a 1/4 mile from any trailhead. Campfires are prohibited at all times so bring your stove !
Maps: Trail maps are available from the Hawn State Park Office at Hawn State Park, 12096 Park Drive, Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670 or call (573) 883-3603. The park map has contours and is sufficient for any trip into the area.
Cautions: Summertime ticks, chiggers and heat, bring plenty of water. After a heavy rain portions of the trail could flood !