Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park: Suburban Mushroom Heaven
Located 30 miles west of downtown St. Louis, Babler State Park is home to an impressive 2,400-acre old-growth forest ecosystem. Despite the park's proximity to the suburbs of the city, Babler offers a lovely network of trails and one of the better foraging opportunities in the area. If you are looking for a good leg stretcher, but can't commit to a day-long hike or one of our excursions, Babler is a wonderful option.
Centerpoint to Goat Trail: A View Worth the Hike
Four months ago, Eric and I took a weekend trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for one last hurrah just before his knee surgery. The surgery would leave him unable to walk for two months and unable to hike for even longer. We had our hearts set on the well-known Centerpoint to Goat Trail, a 5.9 mile out and back trail whose destination is a famously breathtaking view of the Buffalo River.
White’s Creek Trail: An Incredible Hub of Biodiversity
A couple of weekends ago, Eric and I, accompanied by friends John and Sammy, drove four hours southeast to explore the Irish Wilderness, Missouri's largest wilderness area. We hiked White's Creek Trail, starting from the Camp Five Pond Trailhead, over two days. Although the loop is listed at 17.4 miles, most travelers have clocked it at closer to 20 miles. And, if you take the few spurs off the main loop to visit the Eleven Point River and springs, you might hike closer to 22 miles, as we did.
Big Spring, Blue Spring, and Falling Spring
While Eric was hiking on Memorial Day Weekend, I was spending some more relaxed time outdoors with my family. Although we have owned property near Ellington, MO for almost a year now, we have been so busy spending time on the property that this was one of our first forays into the surrounding community. We checked out three springs near Van Buren, MO: Big Spring, Blue Spring, and Falling Spring.
Bell Mountain Loop Trail: Missouri’s Best Sunrise
For Eric's birthday, we decided to check out the 11.6-mile Bell Mountain Loop Trail, which had been on our list to check out for a while. Eric was off work on Friday (state holidays are great) but was moving slowly that morning; so, after the three-hour drive and an extremely curvy road, we pulled into the parking lot around 2 pm. The parking lot is a bit easy to miss since it's on the other side of the road from the Bell Mountain Wilderness sign.
Ozark Trail Current River Section: A Surprisingly Dry Excursion
Over Memorial Day Weekend, my cousins, John, Alex, and Phillip, and I decided we wanted to hike the Current River Section of the Ozark Trail: an ambitious, 30-mile excursion through true Ozark wilderness. This noteworthy section of the trail provides several opportunities for adventure and recreation along the way. Although the maps on the Ozark Trail Association website and other sources say this is a 30-mile trail, the mileage is understated. If you decide to hike this section, you can reasonably expect to walk 35 miles or more even if you skip out on side adventures, such as the half-mile spur trail to Rocky Falls. In other words, this should…
Three Creeks Conservation Area: A Columbia Favorite
Located just south of Columbia, Three Creeks Conservation Area offers a nice escape from the city without a long drive. Three Creeks is comparable to the nearby Rock Bridge State Park, but with the benefit of significantly fewer visitors. If you visit Three Creeks on a Monday after the weekend rush, you're liable to have the area to yourself. Despite the proximity to Columbia, MO, it is a beautiful natural area with an abundance of wildlife, unique stream ecosystems, and (our favorite) prime mushroom foraging areas.
Salt Lick Trail: A Short and Sweet Experience
The Perseid meteor shower of 2018 was unlike any other for Mollie and I. We had only just started to really get to know each other, and for some reason, she trusted this guy with an idea to hike the 3-mile Salt Lick Trail at night, lay on top of a cliff, and listen to some tunes commingle with the annual light show. At the time I was serving tables, and after badgering the manager for a while I managed to get my shift cut short so I could pick up Mollie and see some stars. The Perseids are spectacular and something worth being so excited about, but they weren't…
Ozark Trail Between the Rivers Section: A Private Excursion
Slightly over a year ago, I embarked on my first-ever backpacking trip with Eric as my guide. We had carefully selected a section of the Ozark Trail: part of the Between the Rivers section plus a loop that ran along the Eleven Point River. We also had heard there was a climbable lookout tower in the area. With the whole weekend free, we had our hearts set on covering 19 miles over 2.5 days.
Brushy Creek Loop: (Probably) the Most Remote Trail in Missouri
The end-of-the-week forecast advised us to head to the woods. This particular middle-of-nowhere patch of forest is one of, if not the, largest contiguous areas of forest in Missouri. It just might be the most remote area Missouri has to offer. Mollie and I cut our Friday workdays a bit short, arriving at the Himont Campground in the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry by 7 PM. Our sights were set on the Brushy Creek Trail, an ambitious, 16-mile loop (AllTrails says 14 miles) that starts at the Himont Campground. Little did we know, due to the pandemic, we had entered a closed county and all state campgrounds had been temporarily closed.…