The Sandstone Canyon Trail at Don Robinson State Park

One of the many things I love about Missouri is the large number of state parks. As of today, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has over 50 parks listed with new ones being added every couple of years. They seem to be around every corner! My husband and I are in the state often and have always wanted to spend quality time exploring as many as we could. With travel being what it is this year, we decided now is a perfect time. Less than an hour southwest of St. Louis, we discovered the beautiful Don Robinson State Park. 

The Sign at the entrance of Don Robinson State Park in Missouri.

Don Robinson State Park History

It all started in the 1960s with one man’s goal to acquire the same amount of land as the size of Central Park in New York City, 843 acres. Don Robinson fell in love with the wild and rugged landscape of Jefferson County and wanted to keep it that way for years to come. 

After reading a few articles and watching this YouTube video with Robinson, I came to the conclusion he was not only a self-made entrepreneur but quite the character as well. He made his fortune by creating a spot remover called “Off” which he promoted himself on late-night television commercials. Picture floppy hat-wearing grandpa meets infomercial type of thing. 

The Don Robinson Stone House
Don Robinson moved into the stone house in 1978 and kept building to it.

Following his death in 2012, Robinson left the land (and his quirky stone house) to the state of Missouri, and in 2017 it opened to the public as the Don Robinson State Park.

Now, you will find a delightful picnicking area with rocking chairs overlooking the forest, the house, and two hiking trails that will guide you through sandstone canyons, dry woodlands, and rock shelters.  

Beautiful views and rocking chairs at the picnic shelter at Don Robinson State Park in Missouri.
What a picnic spot!
Beautiful views and rocking chairs at the picnic shelter at Don Robinson State Park in Missouri.
Rocking chairs and that view, yes, please!

RELATED: GREAT STATE PARKS IN MISSOURI

Don Robinson State Park Sandstone Canyon Trail

Sandstone Canyon Trail Distance: 4-mile loop round trip.

Elevation Gain:  550 feet (280 feet in the valley and another 270 feet up in the hills)

Difficulty: Moderate.

Length of Time: 2 – 3 hours. 

Best Time of Year: Spring through the Fall.

NOTE: Wear bug spray. Ticks and chiggers are a problem May through Mid-October. We had no issues with bugs, but it’s always better to be prepared.

Missouri Weather: The park is open all year long with the coldest months being January, February, November, and December. May is the wettest month with January being the driest. Summers are hot and humid with the occasional thunderstorm.  

Sun Exposure: Mostly shaded except for the beginning paved section.

Pets: No pets allowed.

Bathrooms: Yes, at the picnic shelter in the upper lot. 

Parking: A few handicap spaces and regular parking near the trailhead and more in the upper lot near the picnic shelter. 

TIP: It’s a small parking lot so plan a visit during off times like midweek.

Hours: The entrance gate opens at 7 am and closes 30 minutes after sunset.

NOTE: You can shorten the trip to a 2-mile loop by taking white connector #1.

Don Robinson State Park Map

The Sandstone Canyon loop starts out with .60 miles on a wide paved trail which leads to a few picnic tables and benches. Here, you’ll see a bright red arrow leading you to the wooded section of the hike. The trail is well-marked throughout and the red arrows will guide you on the entire loop. 

NOTE: This paved section of the trail, along with the handicap parking spots next to the trailhead, make the short pretty walk accessible to anyone with limited mobility. 

The paved section of the Sandstone Canyon Trail in Missouri.

Flowers at Robinson State Park in Missouri.

Butterfly and flowers at Robinson State Park in Missouri.

TIP: Depending on what time of year you are exploring, keep an eye out for butterflies and flowers near the turnoff into the woods.

Walking counter-clockwise on a narrow path, we pass various trees including hickory and oak before reaching sandstone overhangs and layered rock walls. Even though it’s a super humid day, the temperature is bearable under the canopy of treetops. And for mid-August, the bugs aren’t pesky at all. 

Sandstone Canyon Hiking Trail in Missouri.

As we continue to walk we see mushroom after mushroom. Each one a different shape and size. The entire park is like one big mushroom oasis!

We can’t help but notice all the fleshy fungus ornamenting the forest floor. With the number of shrooms we saw, we decide the trail should be renamed the Magical Mushroom Trail!

A magical mushroom trail in Missouri. We found all kinds of mushrooms on the Sandstone Canyon Trail at the Don Robinson State Park in Cedar Hill.

Not knowing much about mushrooms, I type in a few searches and think I figure out a few of the types: Rusulla, Lepiota, and Chanterelle. 

If you have any Mycology background and know what kinds of Missouri mushrooms these are, please let us know in the comments. 

A small clear creek appears and opens up to a few large pools. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the large sandstone canyon here from below or stay on the ridgeline trail above. Beyond the canyon, the path levels out as you loop back to the paved section. 

We both enjoyed walking the 4-mile Sandstone Canyon Trail and finally exploring Don Robinson State Park. It is a good workout and offers a quiet and refreshing escape into the unspoiled countryside. And the colorful mushrooms provide an aura of enchantment to the hike. Thank you Mr. Robinson for protecting this wonderful and wild landscape.

Can’t wait to get back and get out on the LaBarque Hills Trail. 

Other Fun Missouri Adventures

Don Robinson State Park Trail Directions

Located off MO-30, Don Robinson State Park is 38 miles southwest of St. Louis, Missouri. Take I-55 south to MO-30 west. Exit at Gravois Road in Meramec and turn left on Byrnesville Road. 

Address: 9275 Byrnesville Road, Cedar Hill, Missouri
Phone: 636-257-3788

Have you ever been to Don Robinson State Park? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below. 

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The beautiful Sandstone Canyon Trail in Don Robinson State Park is the perfect summer hike. The 4-mile trail is a close drive from St. Louis and offers a good workout in the unspoiled countryside. And the colorful mushrooms provide an aura of enchantment. #stlouis #missouri #hiking #summer #travel

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