It was going to be a warm winter Saturday, and there was a new Missouri state park that had recently opened up half an hour from our house.

On the request of my gal to “spend some of her birthday in the forest,” we decided to go check out this newly developed Don Robinson State Park and see what was hiding in the hills and valleys in the upper Labarque Creek Watershed.

How to get there

Don Robinson State Park is in Cedar Hill, Mo., about 30 minutes southwest of the St. Louis area. From the junction of Interstate 270 and Highway 30 (Gravois), take Highway 30 west for almost 17 miles. Make a right onto Gravois Road, then almost an immediate left onto South Byrnesville Road. 

After a mile-and-a-half, turn left onto Byrnesville Road, and take that almost 3.5 miles to 9268 Byrnesville Road and the entrance of Don Robinson State Park.

There is currently only one trail at Don Robinson State Park, and it is the four-mile Sandstone Canyon Trail.

After finding a parking spot, we met up with some friends and then proceeded along the pavement to the beginning of the trail.

If you go clockwise like we did, the trail takes you down the hill and soon enough along a tributary of Labarque Creek. It dips down below you and follows the canyon for quite a while before taking you back up into the hills, eventually around a ridge or two and back out again to the pavement.

Why I like this trail

The bottomland along the creek between the hills offers a great example of how water and time shape a landscape. From rock faces to sand mounds within this canyon, you can clearly see how this meandering trickle of rainwater has been steadily carving its way through the area, persistently falling down the subtle slope of the land, patiently gathering the sediment and carrying it away as it brushes off the foothills on either side.

A sculpture created by nature herself, immense and radiating, snaking along with a patience and expression that exists in a timeline beyond our own mortality.

It is difficult to not be in awe when traveling through places like this. Give yourself some time and let it soak into you.

Before this park was opened, I knew nothing of Don Robinson, the man. Other than the name of a person who donated a bunch of land to us Missouri citizens, he was a mystery to me.

Since visiting this former home of his, I have learned all I can and have come to strongly appreciate him for who he was and what he has left for us.

Don Robinson was a St. Louis native, having graduated from University City High School and making his fortune selling a cleaning product called “Off.”

Living with a constant sense of frugality and efficiency, if it could save him some cost, Don would probably do it.

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