Trail of Tears State Park

Trail of Tears State Park

With only enough time left to visit a handful of parks this year, I wanted to visit areas that were unlike the parks I have been to up until now. While researching parks that would be interesting to visit I stumbled across the Trail of Tears State Park. It is a 3,415 acre preserve with some of the most rugged land along the Mississippi River, featuring steep ravines and towering bluffs. As it’s name indicates, The park is a memorial site along the Trail of Tears. One of the parks that falls within this category is the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. You may be familiar with the area if you have watched Netflix’s show *Ozark*. I can’t comment on the accuracy of the show, but I can state for a fact that it is an incredible area. 

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Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park

Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park

It was a Thursday morning, and I had plans to hike. I knew I needed to make it count because it was the only free day I had that week. The problem was, when I woke up I did not want to go. 

The sky that morning was cloudy, which is exactly how I felt. I had no motivation to be creative. I wrestled with the idea of just not going, but the knowledge that I wouldn’t have another chance to go for a week gave me the push I needed. Optimistic that I would feel better when I got started I grabbed some coffee and drove to Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park. 

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Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker State Park

The St. Francis Mountains are an ancient range rising from the Ozark plateau. Millions of years of erosion carved away at the volcanic rock creating the many valleys, bluffs, and shut-ins that can be found there today. The land is a beautiful rugged wilderness: hiking through these mountains can feel like you are going back to a time before humans. Sam A. Baker State Park perfectly captures the essence of this area.

At the heart of the park is Mudlick Mountain, one of the significant domes within the St. Francis Mountains. The mountain is surrounded by the largest wilderness preserve in the Missouri state park system. The park features an extensive network of trails that allow visitors to experience the untouched beauty of the Precambrian mountains. There are also many options for backcountry camping, including three shelters built in 1930 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

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