A Delightful Missouri Spring Hike

We recently went for our first nature hike of the year. I say “hike” because this was not on our usual paved path – we went to a Missouri State Park and explored a cave and hiked one of the trails around it. We had been about 7 years ago, but I was pregnant with JuneBug then and not able to do all of the trail. We have wanted to go back in April ever since because the information said that if we hiked in April we would find the bluebells in bloom.  Yay!

We saw a beautiful Yellow Warbler, a hummingbird, several different varieties of butterflies, tons of flowers, lots of white dogwood and pink red buds in blossom in the underskirt of the forest. A highlight for me was a turtle swimming in the creek (jitterBug found him while we were hiking about 30 feet higher on the edge of the trail). We watched him paddle several feet, climb out, and start to crawl away on the opposite bank. Pretty fun.  🙂

It was such a beautiful sight as we rounded a curve of the (rather steep!) trail and both sides were lined with the delicate, but resilient little flowers. I forgot my camera, of course, but here is a close up picture from the Prairie Moon Nursery:

Mertensia-virginica (Virginia-Bluebells)


The girls were amazed and kept saying “But Mom, they’re not blue. They are purple and pink.” They were more purple than blue, and they were gorgeous! There had been a very hard rainstorm the night before, but the flowers were still standing tall.

There were several trees that caught my attention as well.  There were naked tree branches that had some brown flowers hanging from them. We noticed several and I made a mental note to look them up in our guides when we got home.

paw paw tree blossom

(Photo from grit.com)

Aren’t they neat??

We stopped in the Visitor’s Center which had some field guides out in to be used. I looked them up and discovered that they are paw paw tree flowers. That was really fun because our family has the “way down yonder in the paw-paw patch” song on several CD’s, so it was fun to make that connection.

I looked and looked at their guides and finally caved in. I got two.


(photo from www.mdcnatureshop.com)

One is for Missouri Wild Flowers – I actually have several of those – but this one is newer and has easier identification photos, plus some fun info about different plants, like the Scarlet Pimpernel which is actually found in our part of Missouri – but that it another story for another day.


(photo from www.mdcnatureshop.com)

The other one is one that I am so excited about!! It is for Missouri Birds – and again, I have several of those – but as an educator, I LOVE the ease of use and the fantastic layout and design. The large pictures and splendid colors are perfect for use in helping us draw these birds in our Nature Journals.

Another highlight for me was JitterBug asking the attendant for a pen and paper so she could make notes for her nature journal as we went through the little museum. All the girls were clamoring for my attention so that they could show me something they really liked or were interested in. JuneBug asked me to read her some of the little educational boards in front of an animal display. She was so pleased when the lady told her that she had answered the question right.  😉

The question: What animal eats more frogs in Missouri: the raccoon, the muskrat, the Green Heron, or the mink?

The answer: the mink!

I learn something everyday. 😉

I love spring in Missouri. It’s always such a treat to get out and explore while the weather is perfect and the bugs aren’t so plentiful.

What are your favorite spring things?


3 thoughts on “A Delightful Missouri Spring Hike

  1. Amanda Bowen

    We are near St. Louis and itching to get out for our first hike! What a fun one you had. Would you send me the name of the conservation area/ state park ?


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