Hickory Canyons


Designated as a natural area since
Sainte Genevieve
L-A-D Foundation
Missouri Department of Conservation – Southeast Regional Office
Contact Phone

Points of Interest:

  • Explore amazing canyons carved from ancient Lamotte sandstone.
  • See plant species more common to the northeast U.S.
  • Enjoy scenic wet weather waterfalls.

Natural Features Description:

This area is botanically rich, supporting 541 native vascular plant species and 152 bryophyte (liverworts and mosses) species. A number of these species are considered glacial relicts. Glacial relicts are species that were more common in Missouri 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. Since then, the climate has warmed, forcing some species to inhabit micro-climates that mimic the cool, moist conditions of glacial times. Glacial relicts at Hickory Canyons include hay-scented fern, fir clubmoss and winterberry. The area is rich in fern species with over a dozen species represented.

The Lamotte sandstone here was formed from the sandy beaches of a shallow ocean that existed 500 million years ago. Layers of limestone were deposited over the sandstone, but millions of years of erosion and uplift of the Ozark Plateau exposed the sandstone we see today. After a rain event a wet-weather waterfall can be enjoyed from the end of the hiking trail on the east side of the county road. In the spring the headwater creeks here are a good place to spot a Louisiana waterthrush.

Hickory Canyons is owned by the L-A-D Foundation (https://ladfoundation.org/other-l-a-d-lands/hickory-canyons-na/, 314-621-0230), which is dedicated to sustainable forest management and protection of exemplary natural and cultural areas in Missouri. Leo Drey, one of Missouri’s outstanding conservationists, began the Foundation in 1962. The Foundation’s properties also include Pioneer Forest, where sustainable forestry is practiced on more than 150,000 acres in the Missouri Ozarks. Missouri’s Natural Areas Program owes much to the pioneering work of Leo Drey and the L-A-D Foundation.

Access Info

From Farmington go east on Highway 32 to Highway C. Go north about three miles on Highway C and turn left (south) on to Sprott Road (gravel). Head west on Sprott Road for about 1.75 miles to the parking pull-offs. Two hiking trails provide access. The Allen Brohn Memorial Trail is a one mile loop trail on the north side of Sprott Road. A short half-mile out and back trail provides access to a wet weather waterfall. It starts on the south side of Sprott Road. Please stay on the trails as the sandstone features here are very fragile and easily eroded.

Hickory Canyon Waterfall

Waterfall helped show off the mosses and ferns at Hickory Canyon CA in St. Genevieve County, MO
Hickory Canyon Waterfall

Sandstone overhang in Hickory Canyons Natural Area

View from inside a sandstone overhang in Hickory Canyons Natural Area
Sandstone overhang in Hickory Canyons Natural Area

Hickory Canyons-20180702-808.jpg

Water cascades down a tiered rock face into a shallow pool.
Waterfall at Hickory Canyons after several days of rain in late June 2018.