Many visitors believe that Hawn State Park is the loveliest of Missouri's state parks, with forests of pine and oak, sandstone bluffs and canyons, and clear sand-bottom streams. The park's many trails, picnic areas and campground are well suited for visitors wishing to enjoy the splendor of nature; it is truly a nature lover's paradise. The 4,953-acre park preserves some of the finest areas for viewing Missouri's wide variety of natural wonders. The 2,880-acre Whispering Pine Wild Area offers excellent opportunities to backpack, bird watch or study nature. Covered with pine, oak and flowering dogwood trees, the area is home to a diverse set of plants, animals and birds. Pickle Creek, because of its high quality and pristine nature, has been designated as a state natural area. It is also one of the few places in the state where visitors can see such a wide variety of rock types exposed at the surface. Enjoy a quiet lunch at one of the many picnic tables that dot the sandy, pine-needle-covered forest floor. Hike along some of the most scenic backcountry trails in Missouri. Hawn State Park is the perfect setting for visitors eager to explore the unspoiled natural beauty of the Show-Me-State.
Firstly it's important to note that on the Whispering Pines trail you can do a 6 mile hike (North Loop), a 3.75 mile hike (South Loop), or the whole thing. We did the 6 mile recently and even though it rained the entire time it was beautiful! The trail is VERY well marked but if you miss one you can end up on a cliff like we did, very confused. It said it would take 6 hours but we did it in 4.5 hours with stops (eating lunch and taking tons of photos). It's a pretty difficult hike in some spots but so fun and so pretty! Probably my new favorite place to hike.
I hiked the north loop with my 4 year old this last weekend. We ended up at just about 6 miles, and it took us about 3.5 hours to complete, including a very leisurely lunch. There were 2 areas that required some effort, but most of the hike was simple. Beautiful scenic views. A couple of cliffs that, if you have little ones with you, you'll need to be cautious of. No bridges along the trail, so I imagine when the streams and waterfalls are full there might be some tricky crossings, but there wasn't much water flowing when we went.
My 4 year old managed the whole thing by himself. It was the hardest trail we've attempted so far with him, but definitely not "hard" to our normal standards. He did great up till the last mile, and then he was done and whiny but finished it. Definitely doable with a young child who loves being outside.
We plan to go back this next weekend and do the whole loop and stay the night. Definitely worth the trip!