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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Tennessee Part III: Climbing Mount LeConte

Tennessee Part III: Climbing Mount LeConte

For our fifth and final day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we wanted to climb Mount LeConte, the third tallest peak in the park. We woke up before sunrise to a silent campground, stars still shining in the sky. We rolled up our sleeping pads and tent, and heated water for coffee and a warm breakfast of hikers granola. The sun was just starting to rise as we began the long drive across the park back to Trillium Gap Trailhead.

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Tennessee part II: Hiking in the Smokies

Tennessee part II: Hiking in the Smokies

We began our last morning at the Little Black Cabin like the previous one, with a breakfast of fresh eggs and homemade bread. We packed up the car, bid farewell to the cabin, and set off towards our first destination of the day: Clingman’s Dome.

The drive into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was phenomenal. The winding roads were fun to drive, and offered many breathtaking views of the mountains. While it was an incredible sight, the scars from last year's unfortunate fire were evident, especially on Chimney Top Mountain which was a barren black rock at the top.

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