Seven of Our Great State Parks


Article Tags:

State Parks and State Historic Sites , outdoors , Outdoor Adventure , walking , walking trails , backpacking trail , biking / walking trails , nature trails , Trails , camping
Missouri – Naturally
Author: Hoffman Lewis

Thanks to Missouri’s state parks, some of life’s most beautiful adventures are completely affordable. There’s not much of a price-tag associated with a day at the park – but the memories are absolutely priceless.

Kids feel like real explorers when they visit Ha Ha Tonka State Park, three miles southwest of Camdenton. In addition to caves, a spring and a natural bridge, this park contains the massive remains of a circa 1904 stone castle. Be sure to take a camera, so you can capture phenomenal, bluff-top views of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Located three miles south of Ballwin (a suburb of St. Louis), Castlewood State Park presents excellent opportunities for hiking. Eight trails, of varying lengths and difficulty, wind through the scenic park. Also, Castlewood boasts great fishing, horseback riding, mountain-biking, and boating. Abundant picnic sites allow visitors to enjoy lunch with a fantastic view.

Pair your hike with a glimpse into history at Washington State Park, 12 miles southwest of De Soto. Ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings) can be seen throughout the park. Hiking trails range from leisurely strolls to invigorating power-hikes. If you’d like to add fishing to the itinerary, access to Big River makes fishing a breeze.

Prepare to be wowed by the formations at Elephant Rocks State Park, four miles north of Pilot Knob. There, billion-year-old granite slabs stand end-to-end, looking very much like a string of circus elephants standing nose-to-tail. Explore these massive rocks on a self-guided tour. Spend time reading the names and comments carved into the red granite by 19th century miners who worked in the area. Don’t forget to pack a picnic – it’s not every day you get to dine among the elephants.

Six miles south of Cameron, Wallace State Park is a perfectly peaceful getaway. You’ll find excellent bird-watching, as well as plenty of hiking trails and picnic sites.

Less than five minutes east of Troy you find a nature lover’s paradise. Explore the rugged and beautiful Cuivre River State Park, on more than 38 miles of hiking, backpacking and equestrian trails. The park offers a lake for swimming and fishing, plus camping, picnic areas and a visitor center.

About eight miles north of Patterson, Sam A. Baker State Park provides a wonderful getaway for active families. No matter your favorite outdoor activity, you’re almost certain to find it here. Ride horses. Take a leisurely (or challenging) hike. Pedal your bicycle. Enjoy a picnic lunch with a scenic view of the St. Francois Mountains. On warmer days, embark on a float trip. Sam A. Baker offers all the fun an outdoor enthusiast could want.

NOTE: Do Not Carry Your Own Firewood. Many insects and diseases that kill trees and destroy forests travel in firewood. Buy or gather firewood where you camp and burn it all or leave it there.

 Ha Ha Tonka State Park
The remains of a huge, circa 1905 European-style stone castle add an air of mystery to this park. Situated ...

 Castlewood State Park
This park, straddling the lush valley of the Meramec River, is an excellent location for canoeing and ...

 Washington State Park
Petroglyphs (rock carvings) left by prehistoric Indians are preserved in this park. Other features include ...

 Elephant Rocks State Park
At this park, giant, billion-year-old granite boulders stand end-to-end, like a train of red circus ...

 Wallace State Park
This heavily wooded park is a favorite of bird watchers and solitude seekers. It features individual ...

 Cuivre River State Park
More than 38 miles of hiking, backpacking and equestrian trails wind through this 6,393-acre park. Camping, ...

 Sam A. Baker State Park
The St. Francois Mountains provide the backdrop for this scenic park. Great for families, it offers ...