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Trail Mix — Central — March 2013

Your region's go-now guide: Explore ice caves on Wisconsin's Apostle Islands, overnight in peace in northern Missouri, and more.

Secrets of the Rangers

Thousand Hills State Park, MO

Few hikers expect to find deep-woods solitude and panoramic vistas in northern Missouri, which is why the backcountry campsite on this overnight shuttle hike barely gets used, according to park superintendent
Bruce Steacey. Escape for a weekend at this undiscovered gem near Kirksville. Begin your hike at Big Creek Conservation Area (a turkey hot spot—wear orange in hunting season, Oct. and April), and follow a grassy lane along a ridgecrest with panoramic views of the surrounding savanna. Hit the Thousand Hills Trail at mile 1.6 and continue north on dirt singletrack as it plunges through oak-hickory woodland on the way to Forest Lake. Trace the shoreline to the campsite at mile seven, tucked in a fern-studded hollow. The best views on the trail are along the lakeshore, says Steacey, and expect a lot of ups and downs: “They don’t call us Thousand Hills for nothing!” From the campsite, you can either loop back to your car or continue through the park to a shuttle trailhead at mile 10.8. Pack water—seasonal streams are unreliable and the lake is unpleasantly silty. Contact (660) 665-6995, Trip ID 1996590

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