In our quest to visit all 88 Missouri State Parks, we went to 2 last weekend. The first is blogged about in a prior post. The second is Mark Twain State Park. After checking in at the Visitor Center and checking out the overlook from the parking lot, we headed out for the trail head. All of the trails in the park are in the "Buzzard Roost" camping area. The map that was given to us at the Visitor Center was not detailed at all, so it took some hunting to find where we needed to be. Once we found the right location, we had a great parking spot and felt like we would be on the trail all alone. There were no cars in the parking lot. Odd for Summer...
We chose the Post Oak trail and found the trail head. The length is 1.75 miles. For a 90-degree day, that is long enough. We had ice water packed in a cooler for the drive and it was welcome along the hike. We hiked through the woods and along the shore line with peeks of the lake the whole time. The first mile of the hike was shaded and cooler than being out in the open.
We enjoyed being in the trees looking out at the lake. It was very peaceful. The second half of the hike was nice too, but different. We were still in the forest and shade, but we were now hiking in what seemed to be an inlet of the lake. There were pretty coves and secluded spots that ended in a marsh-like areas. The breeze had picked up on this side of the trail too. Watching the birds hunting and fishing was fun as we headed back to our car.
Over all, the Post Oak Trail at Mark Twain State Park was a great short hike. If you're interested in seeing more about our adventure, please check out our YouTube video about it.
With it being July (hot and humid) in Missouri, we decided we needed short hikes to enjoy this weekend. We also had a guest, my sister, Lori, with us, so we didn't want to spend all of the weekend wearing her out on trails. Mastodon State Historic Park is fairly close to home and seemed to fit the bill for a Saturday. We have driven by this park so many times and had NO idea it was even there! It is just off of I-55 south of St Louis.
The gates are beautiful and depict an idea of what the area might have looked like when mastodons and humans lived here together. There is a museum at the Visitor Center ($4 admission for adults) that contains artifacts from the dig site.
There are 3 trails in this park. We chose to do 2: The Spring Branch Trail and The Wildflower Trail (to the bone yard). Both were very short (less than a mile) but pretty. The Spring Branch Trail is situated in the Picnic Area of the park and was very busy on a Saturday after noon. At the trail head, is the ruins of the spring house used when a family lived in the area. The trail leads through a wood area to Rock Creek. The State Park promotes the creek as a nice place to swim/wade. People were using the cool spring waters for that on this day.
The only downside to this trail was the traffic noise from the nearby street and interstate highway.
After our first short trail, we decided to visit the bone yard on the Wildflower Trail. There were plenty of steps and several interpretive signs and even an audio tour. The disappointing part of this trail was that the dig site has been filled in and was not distinguishable. It was more of a nice walk in the woods. There were fewer people on this trail, which was preferable, but the traffic noise was ever-present. Over all, I'm glad I went with people I liked and could have fun not finding what we expected.
If you are looking for a historical stop for your afternoon or a nice place for a family picnic near south St Louis, Mastodon State Historic Park is the place to go. For hiking, St Louis Metro area has better locations.
After an emotional week of a conference in a city with thousands of people around, this was the perfect decompression for our minds and renewal for our tired spirits. The drive to Garden of the Gods State Recreation Area was quaint and calming. Once we got there we didn't quite know where to go or what to expect. There aren't any maps or much signage on the roads in the park, so be sure to print the maps you need in advance. We were not that good, being that we were coming from a conference and this was a stop on the way home. Fortunately, the park is not so remote that I couldn't get Internet on my phone.
The signs once we got to the main parking lot let us know that the trail we were looking for was about a quarter of a mile. Since we didn't want to go very far yesterday, it seemed perfect.
The Observation Trail is paved with flagstone and is fairly easy to walk. There were so many cool rock formations and colors in the rocks from the beginning for the trail to the end.
The overlooks on the trail are all a bit like rock scrambling, but nothing treacherous unless you are really reckless (Don't be!). Evidently, this area of Illinois was a huge lake years ago and all of these rocks formed then and were revealed as the water receded.
I am so glad we stopped here on our way home to reconnect with the Earth and get our boots in the dirt. It was a fun stop and a area that I hope to go back to in the Fall when the trees are changing. I'm sure it will be stunning then as well.
Please check out my YouTube video on Garden of the Gods and if you like what you see, please subscribe to the channel.
Happy Independence Day, America! While most of the country was at parades, we went hiking! (How else should we spend a day off work?!)
After looking at the weather, we decided it would be safe to try a short hike. The temperatures this week are MUCH cooler than last week. We didn't think we would get rained on too much and not for long if it did rain. We did prepare for the rain with our rain gear and water-proof hiking boots.
We got to Babler State Park mid-morning. We had checked out the trails online first and knew that the longest one we would tackle would be 2 miles, so the late start was not a problem.
We stopped by the visitors' center and got recommendation of the Dogwood Trail. It has a spring on a short spur trail, so that sounded right up our alley. By the time we got out of the visitors' center, it was drizzling. By the time we got to the trail head, it was RAINING. We put on our gear, grabbed our packs and headed out anyway. We enjoy hiking in the rain! It is usually quiet and we rarely see other people when it rains. This proved true of the Dogwood Trail today.
I didn't get to take a ton of pictures because of the rain, but the ones I did take were pretty good. The trail itself was very easy and very well marked. The rain made things shiny (and slippery).
We had a good time getting some mud on our boots. Ha!
The spring on the spur trail is really beautiful. The rain made it more so, I think.
The hike was over before we knew it. Even though we were wet, this hike didn't disappoint. I would recommend it for an easy day hike.
To see more pictures and video of the Dogwood Trail, check out our YouTube video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?edit=vd&v=AqnTFGBuQeY
June 26 might not have been the BEST day to pick to hike in Missouri. Especially since we were starting our 8+ mile hike in the late morning. It was already 90 degrees when we started at 11:00 am. But, this was the hike I chose to start this adventure in publishing our hiking adventures. It has a gorgeous spring half-way through that I wanted to show off. I just knew it was going to be GREAT!
We had treated our clothes for bugs the night before and have packed our backpacks with plenty water and food. We didn't really have a time schedule, so we could take as many breaks as was necessary. We were ready for whatever the trail would throw at us.
The hike started out joyfully enough. The shade of the trees was nice and the bugs weren't bad at all.
The first quarter of the trail travels along a creek or storm run off path. It was mostly dry, but we haven't had much rain all June long. It was quite enjoyable. Once we crossed the highway, we left the creek bed behind us and were walking in bottom lands with tall trees, but more sunlight filtering through (very pretty). The bugs, however, were a bit of pesky.
At the 4.5 mile point, we got to Copper Hallow Spring. It was lovely here. We were in the shade of the bluff and the temperature dropped considerably. Of course, the water coming out of the spring was very cool and that helped as well. We enjoyed a bite to eat and dropping our packs for a few minutes there. The creek crossing at the mouth of the spring helped to cool off our feet (even through our boots). It was great! If we could have teleported back to the car from there, the day would have been perfect!
The rest of the trail was much of the same as the first part only the bugs were horrible. I LOVE walking in the woods! We saw deer, chipmunks, lots of butterflies, and a box turtle. We also got swarmed by gnats and mosquitoes. There are some beautiful parts to the back half of the wilderness trail. We didn't take much time to take it all in on this trek. We walked to beat the bugs. Next time, I will plan to hit this trail in the cooler months of the year. This trail is a definite one to keep on the list of favorites. I took a few pictures and some video. To see the full version, please check it out on YouTube.
Until next time, keep on trekking!