My friend and I (and our pups) set out to see Hughes Mountain Natural Area in Irondale, Missouri. This place is about an hour and a half from St. Louis. The natural area is named after John Hughes, one of the first settlers in the area. In the early 1800’s, he operated a mill just north of the natural area on the Big River. Hughes Mountain is best known for its “Devil’s Honeycomb” rock formations. Ancient lava cooled forming rhyolite rock columns.
A short .8 mile trail leads to the top of the mountain. The trail had a steady incline, but nothing too strenuous. Once you reach the glade, the trail ends and the exploring begins. We worked our way to the top and stopped to take in the amazing views.
The trail is an out and back type of trail. One tip is when heading back to the trail from the top of the mountain is to look for the tall, metal pole that is sticking out of the ground. This signifies the start of the trail back to the parking lot.
I really loved this area. For a relatively easy hike, you are rewarded with views that can’t be beat! Since the hike was fairly short, we headed to the Bootleg Access on the Big River which is just west of Hughes Mountain. The river is clear and cold. We let the dogs swim as we waded in the water.