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From the Field: BACKPACKER trail scouts’ top Central local hikes

Try a 9-mile out-and-back in Ohio's Hemlock Gorge or hike through history in Per Marquette State Park or on the Saddle Rock Trail in Nebraska.

Wilderness Trail, Meramec SP, MO
Brian Wilcox, Sullivan, MO

Soak up quintessential Ozark scenery and solitude on this nine-mile loop past shady hollows, spring-fed streams, and the free-flowing Meramec, one of the state’s longest undammed waterways. Hike through an open oak-hickory forest to camp at one of three sites at mile 4.5. Day two, catch sunrise at mile five, overlooking the river valley. Close the circle past a handful of small glades, home to prairie grasses that turn golden in the autumn chill. Trip ID 17035

“Centuries-old post oaks tend to grow twisting branches.”

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