If you follow along with me on Instagram and Facebook, then you probably already know that I’m a big fan of camping and the great outdoors.
Growing up, I got the best of both worlds of camping: RV and tent camping. My mom, big brother and I would frequently pick up and go with my grandparents in their RV all over. Conversely, when we visited our dad in the summers, he would take my brothers and I tent camping. We’d hitch up the boat, pitch a tent, and take off. Some of my fondest memories came from those camping trips.
My hubby had never camped in any fashion until he met me. Back then, when we were poor college students then newlyweds, we would tent camp with friends, converting my hubby from newbie to seasoned camper. No wonder I married him! ;). Fast forward to having kids, and then we needed a bigger tent. Then Covid happened, and we thought the same thing hundreds of others thought….let’s buy a camper!
So we purchased a cute little pop-up camper, a Coachman Clipper that we christened Alice after my grandmother, at the end of the season last year and managed to get it out twice before the weather turned cold.
The kids had spring break last week, and since we weren’t getting together with family for Easter, we decided to take Alice out. We spent Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning at Hawn State Park in Sainte Geneviève, MO, hiking, playing, and roasting Peeps around the campfire. I’ve created this 3-step photo tutorial for making a Peep S’more. 😉 You’ll know the Peep is done roasting when it has grown slightly in size and the eyes have expanded from small brown pin points into .25″ brown circles or until they disappear altogether. So gooey and oh so good!
This time of year, with the rain and the air starting to warm, everything was just starting to bud and bloom. Hiking the Pickle Creek trail, we saw lots of small waterfalls as the water raced over the rocks. The creek has carved away at the sandstone around it creating beautiful bluffs and rock faces. Though those same rocks made this trail a more difficult trail, but it was worth it to see those bluffs with the creek racing along at the bottom, wildflowers and trees blooming up around the banks. At the end of the Pickle creek trail, it meets up with the North Loop of the Whispering Pines trail, which took us across the creek and back toward the parking area, totaling a 2 mile hike. The kids and the pup all did really well, even on the more rugged Pickle Creek Trail portion.
The most treacherous part of this 2 mile hike was crossing back over Pickle Creek when we got onto the Whispering Pines segment. The water was rushing quickly, the rocks were slick, and while everyone made it safely across, I slipped and fell and got a good gash on my shin. If I hadn’t been trying to carry the pup, I’d have probably been fine though. My recommendation is to wear good hiking shoes, bonus if they are good hiking sandals that can get wet, and also stay low to the ground. Keeping your center-of-gravity closer to the ground will help stabilize you as you cross.
As we build up the kids’ hiking stamina, I’d like to try the White Oaks Trail at a little over 3 miles, then maybe the half loops of the Whispering Pines trail, which has a connector trail bisecting the 10+ mile loop into more manageable North and South Loops, at 6 and 4 miles respectively. There are several connector paths as well, so you can easily make your hikes as long or short as you want!
The park boasts basic and hike-in sites as well as electric and premium electric sites. While there are no full hook up sites available, there is a dump station as well as a newer bath house that even has a laundry room, just in case! The campground itself is on the small side, and sites book up fast. But the smaller size means shorter treks to the water spigot, vault toilets or bath house, or the playground, which my kids loved. The campground also sits next to Pickle Creek, which was fun for the kids, who enjoyed going down to the creek to play. But it bears saying once again that it is a rocky terrain in and around the creek, so “play” is an operative word. They mostly just enjoyed throwing rocks!
We stayed on site #20, which is an electric site situated in the middle of the campground right next to the playground, where my sons played on the swings frequently, and maybe 100 yards from the bathhouse. We were right next to the water spigot too, so I was more than pleased with our site selection. The sites feature concrete pads for back in, long enough for a camper plus vehicle. The fire pits also have the fold down grate if you plan to grill over the open fire, which I think is always so nice to know going in since not all fire pits are created equal.
I will say though that due to the angle of the sites in comparison to the path of the sun, there didn’t seem to be a lot of shade. Part of that could be due to the time of year, as trees have only just started to bud, but since most of the trees around are pines, I don’t know how much more shade later seasons will yield. I’ll have to visit again and report back. Also, because of its proximity to the creek, the potential for mosquitos is high, so make sure you have good repellant on hand!
All around, we had a lot of fun. The park and campground were beautiful and it is easy to see why it books up so quickly. We will definitely be returning!
Do you have a favorite place to go camping? Where is it? Tell me in the comments! I’m always looking for suggestions and recommendations!
Until next time, happy camping!
P.S. Want to learn more about Hawn State Park, or want to make a reservation? Click here to take you to the MO DNR website!
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