Hickory Canyons Natural Area is in Ste. Genevieve County, northeast of Farmington. Owned by the L-A-D Foundation, this 280-acre area is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Defined by its box canyons and sandstone cliffs, Hickory Canyons NA harbors a number of unique plant communities, especially on the cool, moist cliff faces. These features support concentrations of partridge berry, various fern species and club mosses. In the bottoms grow spicebush, pawpaw, deciduous holly and numerous sedges.
The bottoms are defined by mesic sandstone forest, an uncommon natural community in Missouri. This forest is dominated by northern red oak, white oak, and sugar maple. There is also dry mesic sandstone forest along the upper slopes and around the trailhead. There, and also on the dry sandstone cliffs, are shortleaf pine, white oak, black oak, blackjack oak, scarlet oak, post oak, and mockernut hickory. Understory trees and shrubs on the dry sites include azalea, flowering dogwood, farkleberry, and ironwood.
Two short hiking trails offer good views of the area's distinctive bluffs and canyons. A one-quarter mile trail from the parking area leads to a steep-walled box canyon. Across the road from the parking area is a more strenuous, one mile trail that traverses the steep terrain through the sandstone forest. It also crosses a scenic creek in a few locations.