Off the Beaten Path – Pickle Springs Natural Area, MO

When looking for hidden gems off the beaten path for a road trip, one of the key things to look for are the little green spots on a map. These designate natural areas that someone chose to set aside as a park of some sort. Sometimes, they are just open grassy areas with playgrounds or soccer fields, but many times they include some natural wonder that is well worth a visit. On one of our trips down to Florida, we selected Pickle Springs Natural Area to check out – a little green spot 18 miles off of Highway 55 near Farmington, Missouri. We visited in March of 2009, so our pictures are from that time of year.  Here’s what we discovered – beautiful trail definitely worth the little side trip to check it out. The kids had a great time! Thanks for reading!

Pickle Springs Natural Area, MO

Pickle Creek 2009This 180 acre area, located near Farmington, Missouri, is a deep, forested gorge that features unique rock formations, seasonal waterfalls, bluff overlooks, and shallow caves. Pickle Springs is named after William Pickle, a European immigrant who acquired the land in 1848. According to local legend, he was shot by a band of renegades during the civil war. The land was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974 and is maintained by the East Ozark Audubon Society in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation. The cool, moist conditions offers a variety of plant and animal life, many rare to the state including hay-scented fern, large whorled pogonia, ground cedar, livertworts, blooming wild azaleas, cinnamon ferns, four-toed
salamandars, pickerel frogs, and southern leopard frogs. The Lamotte sandstone in the area has been carved into hoodoos (mound or pillar-like sandstone blocks weathered into unusual shapes), arches (including the double arches), canyons, and caves.

Things to Know:

The 1.9 mile ‘Trail Through Time’ includes some steep climbs, but is kid and dog friendly. It can be busy during the weekends. The trail is NOT handicap accessible.


None. Visit a restroom and purchase water prior to visiting.Small parking lot provides access to the site.


The trail is a 1.9 mile hiking trail through the woods, across bridges, and over rocks. It includes some steep climbs and is rated at moderate. Open every day from dawn to dusk.
Trail Map

How to get there:

Pickle Springs MapPickle Springs Natural Area is located 7 miles east of Farmington, MO and 18 miles west off Highway 55 Exit 154.
From Highway 55 Exit 154, Turn right on State Road O for 6 miles. Then take Highway 32 West for 10.5 miles, turning left on State Hwy AA. Proceed 1.6 miles and turn left onto Dorlac Road. Parking lot will be on the right in 0.4 miles.

From Farmington, take Highway 32 East for 5 miles. Turn right on State Hwy AA. Proceed 1.6 miles and turn left onto Dorlac Road. Parking lot will be on the right in 0.4 miles.

Fees: Admission is free
Time to enjoy: 1-2 hours
Roadtrip: Day-trip, StLouis-MO-Sikestone-MO-segment
Tags: hiking, scenic-overlook

About Author

Kristi enjoys traveling and taking road trips to fully experience life. She loves to find local eateries, off the beaten path hidden gems, and the secrets to enjoying the journey.

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(4) Comments

  1. Dustin

    Thanks for the information. I’ve spent the last few years traveling through Europe, but I’m running low on my airlinenpoints this year, so I’ve been thinking about doing a good old fashioned American road trip.

    Pickle springs looks like it might be a nice stop. I’ll be checking some of the other pages on your site to get more ideas.

    1. Trippy Tripster

      Thanks Dustin!  I’d love for you to get involved in my site!  I’ll be busy adding more and more content for roadtrip ideas as well as getting members to join the site for contributions.  I’d be happy to help you with your road trip in any way.  Thanks for reading!

  2. Barb

    Hi! Thanks for this wonderful post on Pickle Springs.

    I’m in Canada but do travel to the U.S. often. This is definitely one of the spots I would like to check out on my next trip south. The trails are gorgeous!

    Do you know of any good hotels or bed and breakfast

    1. Trippy Tripster

      Hi Barb!  Thanks for reading!  If you like hotels, nearby Farmington, MO has a great Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express.  For something a little more unique, you could check out the B&B’s in the historic river town of Ste Genevieve including Somewhere Inn Time, Main Street Inn, and Le Coquerel B&B.  If you go, let me know how it goes!

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