By Bill Graham
Courtesy of MDC
St. Joseph, Mo. – Hiking in the outdoors offers fun and adventure throughout the year. But on Saturday, June 6, the American Hiking Society will also observe the annual National Trails Day. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites visitors to enjoy the day by hiking on trails at conservation areas.
Users of MDC areas in northwest Missouri will find two types of trails for hiking. Some are footpaths through forest, woodlands, or grasslands. Yet also available for hiking are gravel or service roads normally closed to vehicle traffic. The types of habitats people can hike through varies, too.
In Atchison County, the Star School Prairie Conservation Area and the Brickyard Hill Conservation Area both have service roads that serve as hiking paths. Brickyard Hill also has a designated hiking trail around a fishing lake. Visitors can access loess soil prairies from parking lots at the base of the areas’ west slopes, steep bluffs that rise above the Missouri River bottom. But forest and fields managed for wildlife are also found in the area’s interior acres beyond the bluff line.
The Riverbreaks Conservation Area in southern Holt County has several designated hiking trails throughout the area. This area is in the Missouri River bluffs and has a mix of forest, pockets of loess soil prairie, and fields managed for wildlife. One tip – grab a map at the parking lot bulletin board. A map and perhaps a compass will help hikers know which way to go when arriving at a junction of trail loops.
Wetlands are featured at the Nodaway Valley Conservation Area and the Bob Brown Conservation Area in Holt County. Besides service roads closed to traffic, both areas have grass or gravel-topped levees available for hiking past wetland pools or streams.
The Poosey Conservation Area northwest of Chillicothe has numerous designated trails. The hilly area has a mix of forest, creeks, woodlands, grasslands, fields, and lakes.
MDC offers many more areas throughout northwest Missouri with fishing, hiking, birding, and hunting opportunities. But not all hiking spots are rural.
The Mark Youngdahl Urban Conservation Area in St. Joseph offers two miles of hiking trails through grassland and forest. Two of the three trails are paved and accessible for those with mobility challenges.
To find a conservation area near you, visit https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places, or download the free MO Outdoors app with area information, directions, and trail maps at https://mdc.mo.gov/contact-engage/mobile-apps/mo-outdoors. For more information on the American Hiking Society and National Trails Day, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Z7i.