At some time this winter, I’m sure you’ve yelled: Get me out of here! Well, now’s the time. Whether you do it on foot, by bicycle, on horseback or in a canoe, there is no better time than spring to “get out” and enjoy Missouri’s great outdoors.
After a long, hard winter, we all need some exercise. Some of the best places to enjoy the splendor are along Missouri’s many hiking and biking trails. Possibly the easiest to travel is the Katy Trail State Park. This flat, scenic trail winds along the bluffs of the Missouri River bottomlands from just north of St. Charles, westward to Boonville, where it turns southwest and passes through grassy plains and farm lands, ending near downtown Clinton. The 225-mile, family-friendly trail is ideal for walking, running, or cycling . . . there’s even a 25-mile stretch between Calhoun and the Sedalia Fairgrounds trailhead where horseback riding is allowed.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Ozark Trail, a very rugged, wilderness hiking and backpacking path stretching from St. Louis, southwestward to near the Arkansas border. Combined, the two branches of the Ozark Trail traverse more than 350 miles in Missouri, passing through the Mark Twain National Forest, Taum Sauk State Park, the Irish Wilderness and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
Talk about nature’s beauty . . . a quiet canoe trip on any of Missouri’s floatable rivers and streams will fill your senses with joy wonder. Imagine the cool morning fog rising from the surface of the Jacks Fork like a curtain, unveiling a red-tailed hawk gliding along the air currents above the bluffs; a great blue heron searches the shallow water for its morning snack; and the song birds fill the valley with music. Now that’s a Missouri morning everyone should experience.
Canoe outfitters across Missouri can send you on an enjoyable float lasting from a couple of hours to several days. Take your own canoe and equipment, or the outfitters can supply everything you need for an enjoyable and safe trip. Find float facilities and outfitters on VisitMO.com, and on the Missouri Canoe Association website. Nature is a continuous festival in Missouri.
If blazing a trail on a horse is more your style, Missouri has just what you’re looking for, whether you have your own steed or need to rent one. The equestrian page on VisitMO is a good place to start searching for that perfect horseback outing. Trail rides lasting an hour to several days are available. Overnighting on the trail . . . now that’s nature at her best.
If you just want to get outdoors, how about a day at one of our fantastic state parks? It’s all there: fishing; camping; hiking; boating and canoeing; picnicking; caves; history . . . well, the list of things to do in a state park is long. The Missouri Division of State Parks has launched a fantastic new website, filled with information about all of Missouri’s State Parks and State Historic Sites. There is one near you.
So rejoice. Fresh air awaits. Missouri is a place of beauty, relaxation, splendor and tranquility—especially in the spring. For information about Missouri destinations and attractions, and to order your free copy of the Official Missouri Travel Guide, call 800-519-4800 or log on to www.VisitMO.com.