I had previously flown into Kansas City to visit some waterfalls in eastern Kansas and outside Kansas City, but I did not see this waterfall pop up in my searches from years ago. As we were traveling cross-country, I searched for Missouri waterfalls, and this falls appeared. I did a bit of research and found out the falls are in the Parkville Nature Sanctuary northwest of Kansas City.
The falls are often referred to as the Parkville Nature Sanctuary waterfall. I have been informed that the falls are on White Alloe Creek, so I decided to refer to them as White Alloe Creek Falls, which is a bit easier to communicate.
When we arrived at the parking area for the nature sanctuary, it was warm and humid. Luckily, the path was mostly shaded, and the hike is relatively short. It’s just under 1 mile round-trip and is on mostly level ground. Even then, we were still sweating a lot. But once you near the waterfall, it definitely cools down a bit. The waterfall isn’t tall, but it is definitely a beautiful waterfall. It’s a pleasant surprise, one that I would definitely direct people to for a day hike in the Kansas City area.
From I-635, you want to end up on MO-9, heading northwest.
Continue on MO-9 into Parkville. You will need to turn right to stay on MO-9.
In between 12th Street and 13th Street (on the right), you will find parking for the Parkville Nature Sanctuary.
After parking, you will find signs that direct you the falls.
Missouri’s waterfalls tend to be spread out so that it requires a bit of driving between each of the falls to see multiple falls. Rocky Falls is south-central Missouri, not terribly far from Arkansas. Rocky Falls is one of the easier waterfalls to visit in Missouri, as it only requires a very short hike from the parking lot.
At about 30′ tall, Rocky Falls is a pretty waterfall, though I did show up in April and there wasn’t a whole lot of water flowing over it. It seems to be popular as a swimming hole, as there is a lot of water that collects in a pool below the falls. Since not as much water was flowing over the falls, some people took advantage of exploring the falls further up.
There are a number of different ways to get to the falls. If on MO-106, head to State Highway H. If headed east on MO-106, it would be a right turn onto H.
Drive 4 miles on State Highway H, and then turn left on Highway NN.
Drive 2 miles on State Highway NN, and then turn right onto County Road NN-526.
Drive a short distance to the parking are for Rocky Falls Shut-ins.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip
There are two major thoughts that come to mind when I think about Tryst Falls. First off, let’s start with the name. I knew what the definition of tryst was, but had to go and check just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. After confirming I wasn’t going crazy, I had to search and see if there was any history behind the name. According to a historian of this area in Missouri, the waterfall used to be a meeting place for lovers…how sweet.
Now that we’ve taken care of the name, let’s talk about the falls. Tryst Falls just goes to show that there isn’t a really great database of all of the waterfalls in some states. States such as Washington, Oregon, and New York (just to name a few) have pretty comprehensive databases because there are so many waterfalls in the area, and people expect to find waterfalls in the area. On the other hand, states like Kansas and Missouri seem to be lacking because people don’t picture “waterfall” when they think of Missouri or Kansas. So it was with great surprise that I stumbled upon Tryst Falls when searching for waterfalls near Kansas City. A number of the falls listed on one site were artificial, but this one isn’t.
Tryst Falls is 5-7′ tall, so understandably it’s not on everyone’s radar. On the other hand, there is a park designated for the falls, and it is a really great park. On a sunny day, I would definitely suggest going and having a picnic near the falls. Luckily, yesterday when I visited the falls, it had been raining on and off, so there was definitely water flowing over the falls. I imagine that in the depths of summer, the waterfall might dry up or be a trickle. The best time to visit would probably be in spring, or after an impressive rainfall. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit just this one waterfall, though if you’re in the Kansas City area, it is not a difficult drive, being just a few miles east of Kearney. And as I’ve hinted, there are other waterfalls in the region, though they may not be big and well advertised. (Check out this website if you want more info.)
Once you get to Kearney, MO, this is very easy to find. Kearney is right off of I-35 north of Kansas City. I’m not sure what the exit number is, but the sign will say “Kearney” and MO-92.
Once you exit I-35, head east on MO-92, which you will likely already be driving on.
Keep driving east on MO-92 for about 6 miles to Tryst Falls Park, which if headed east will be found on your right. There are clear signs indicating where the park entrance is.
After entering the park, take the gravel road to the right. Drive toward the creek, and it’s pretty difficult to miss the falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (great amenities at the park, too)
Length of Hike: roadside
The lower portion of Mina Sauk Falls in April 2013
Mina Sauk Falls is likely one of the best known waterfalls in Missouri, and is probably the tallest in the state. Sometimes, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an interesting waterfall, but Mina Sauk Falls is worth the effort.
Mina Sauk Falls is in Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, which is about two hours or so from St. Louis. As a side note, the equally interesting Elephant Rocks State Park is nearby. Both parks can be easily visited in the same day. As you drive along the winding, mostly paved road to the falls, you end up at the top of Taum Sauk Mountain. The hike to the falls is actually downhill on the way there.
The hike isn’t particularly long, and it is easy on the way down (for the most part). It is difficult to view the whole falls at the same time, and it does require some effort to see the bottom portion. The upper portion requires less effort. On the way back up, you are now hiking consistently uphill. Luckily, the elevation gain is spread out over enough a distance that it doesn’t even remotely rank as one of the most difficult hikes.
From what I’ve read, the falls seem to be diminished in volume later in the year, so the best time to visit is in spring as any snow will have recently melted. When I visited in mid-April, the falls were definitely at a nice level of flow.
From Arcadia, Missouri, head southwest on MO-21/72 for a few miles or so. (Signs will indicate the distances).
Turn right onto Highway CC, which leads directly to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park.
The road is relatively direct. There is one point where a split occurs. Keep to the left along what turns into a dirt road.
The road ends at a parking loop. From here, follow the trail to Mina Sauk Falls. It’s about 1.5 miles one-way.
Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous, this is not meant for someone that has just had surgery…kids will likely be ok)
Length of Hike: 3 miles round-trip
This weekend I took a trip into St. Louis so that I could look for Missouri waterfalls. Mina Sauk Falls, the tallest falls, is on the agenda. When I searched for other Missouri waterfalls, it seemed difficult to find many. One that I stumbled upon was Hickory Canyon Falls. I’m definitely glad I stumbled upon it!
The Hickory Canyons Natural Area is a treasure that you should check out if you’re in the vicinity of Ste. Genevieve or Farmington, Missouri. It might even be worth driving out of the way! First, it wasn’t busy! I had the whole place to myself. The hike to the main waterfall, which I’ll refer to as Hickory Canyon Falls, is only 1/4 of a mile (one way). It is worthwhile visiting after early in the spring or after a significant rainfall, as the falls are likely to be less exciting if little water is flowing. Even now, there wasn’t a massive amount of water, but enough to make it worthwhile.
The 1-mile circle hike across the road is equally worthwhile. With caution (and following the approved paths), these hikes are moderate but manageable. If you want to explore, you will be crossing a few creeks, though none of them very wide. The whole natural area is a gem, and I’ll post about two other minor falls I saw in the same canyons.
Driving along I-55, take exit 150.
Drive along MO-32, heading west. You’ll drive for about 8 miles.
Turn right on County Road C. This turn is somewhat abrupt, so pay attention! Drive about 3 miles or so to Sprott Road.
Turn left onto Sprott Road (the only option!). Head just less than 2 miles down the road. There will be a parking area on the left. This parking area is almost impossible to miss. It’s the only real clearing along most of the road (before arriving at houses later on the road).
The trail to the falls is at the left edge of the parking area. The other, longer trail is found on the opposite side of the road. Both are marked with signs.
(Sprott Road can also be accessed from County Road EE. The drive to the parking area is just less than 2 miles.)
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate, some steep parts)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip