Area offers ample opportunities for National Hiking Day

For 30 years the American Hiking Society has invited people to enjoy the outdoors on National Hiking Day on the first Saturday in June. Several of Missouri’s state parks are planning special events to mark the day, but finding a place to escape into the woods doesn’t require an itinerary or agenda.

Still, the planned events offer advantages of local experts and explanations. At Washington State Park south of De Soto, the National Trails Day program includes three distinct activities beginning at 2 p.m. on June 4.

The Senior Stroll will walk to the base of the 1,000 Steps Trail at Washington State Park.

Designated as a Senior Stroll, park staff will lead a half-mile hike along the base of the 1,000 Steps Trail, starting from Thunderbird Lodge. The walk in the woods welcomes participants of all ages and abilities. The natural surface trail is well packed and passable, and staff members will point out the features of the Big River day use area at the park.

At 4 p.m. a tour of the petroglyph site at Washington State Park will include a park naturalist leading the way through the covered walkway and interpretive panels to provide details about the Mississippian-era community and its inhabitants who made carvings in the stones.

Beginning at 7 p.m. a program on hiking at night will be presented at the park campground amphitheater. Following the presentation, a short hike will be held in the campground to put the night hiking safety tips into action.

The Stone Bridge at Babler State Park is one of many interesting features along the trail.

Those looking for a traditional hiking experience would enjoy the two-mile excursion planned on the Dogwood Trail at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park in Wildwood from 10 a.m. to noon on June 4. The trail is moderate grade, so good hiking shoes are recommended, along with drinking water and insect repellent. Park staff will lead the hike from the Guy Park Trailhead.

Although it is not officially a National Trails Day event, the Rockin’ at Robertsville State Park free concert planned for 6 p.m. on June 4 should offer plenty of family fun. The show will be held in the park’s day-use area with some picnic tables available. The park has several excellent hiking opportunities for a pre-show walk.

Don Robinson State Park near Cedar Hill doesn’t have events planned for National Hiking Day, but the park has excellent trails, including an all-accessible, concrete path that travels from the parking into the woods.

In addition to being great outdoor exercise, hiking can be a link to history.

Mastodon State Historic Site in Imperial also has fantastic hiking trails without an official program planned for June 4. The museum is the major draw for the area, but the hiking trail in the lower park area south of Seckman Road provides an easy hike, and the trails on the north side of the county road offer more challenging treks.

The state Department of Conservation areas in Jefferson County have designated hiking trails that offer variety along side the fresh air and scenery. The most unique of these places are the Victoria Glades and Valley View Glades natural areas east and west of Hillsboro respectively.

Because of their geology the flora and fauna is specialized to the areas. Shallow soil over and around big rocks limits the ability for most plants to grow, so hikers are treated to naturally wide-open views. Closer inspection of the earth and its inhabitants will reveal plants and animals that are adapted to the harsh conditions.

The pristine LaBarque Creek in northwest Jefferson County is one of the most unspoiled wild areas in the St. Louis region.

The Hilda Young, Glassberg Family, and LaBarque Creek conservation areas in northwest Jefferson County combine forces to protect one of the most pristine wildlife areas in the St. Louis region. Hiking trails in each location offer everything from creek-side strolls to ridge-top river vistas.

Whether you are at a state park or on private property, hiking on Saturday will connect you with walkers across the country who have been recognizing the benefits of outdoor life for 30 years.

Originally published by Leader Publications June 6, 2022.

Published by John J. Winkelman

A freelance outdoor writer for more than 30 years

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