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Missouri: Cuivre River State Park
Posted on Monday, January 29 @ 23:00:00 CST by iljiana

Horse Camping & Trails 678 State Route 147
Troy, MO 63379
(636) 528-7247

Cuivre River State Park lends a wilder, Ozarkian flavor to the otherwise predominately agricultural landscape of northern Missouri. Although not far from St. Louis, the park is a nature lover’s paradise. A stroll through the park in the spring when many woodland wildflowers are in bloom or in the fall when the prairie grasses tower over your head is an outdoor delight. Spend a few days at the park. Both primitive and modern campsites are available, and Lake Lincoln offers swimming, boating and fishing. The park’s two wild areas provide hiking, backpacking, photography and wildlife observation activities. There are also equestrian trails and a campground for overnight stays. Three natural areas – areas noted for their high-quality ecosystems – feature native prairie, sinkhole ponds, woodlands and a clear, rock-bottomed stream. Big Sugar Creek is one of the finest undisturbed streams left in northeastern Missouri. Several trails lead through the Lincoln Hills Natural Area and its many unique natural features. Whether for a few hours or a few days, come visit one of the state’s largest and most rugged parks. You will find Cuivre River State Park to be an Ozarklike island in north Missouri’s rolling plains.Trails Cuivre River State Park contains nine trails of varying lengths and difficulty. Many miles of trail are open to both hikers and equestrians. The trails offer scenic vistas from atop Frenchman’s Bluff; wind through forested hills and steep valleys of tall oaks and hickories; and traverse glades, restored prairies and the lush flood plain of Big Sugar Creek.

NATURAL HISTORY The Lincoln Hills of northeastern Missouri provide the setting for one of Missouri’s largest and most natural state parks: Cuivre River State Park. The rugged landscape and forested hills more closely resemble the Ozarks of southern Missouri than the gently rolling plains north of the Missouri River. These hills are the result of great pressures within the earth hundreds of millions of years ago that caused the bedrock to fold, or buckle, into a series of hills about 60 miles long and 15 miles wide. Cuivre River State Park is located at the southern edge of these hills. Later, during the ice age about half a million years ago, glaciers pushed down through northern Missouri and flattened the landscape. The Lincoln Hills, however, were not worn down nearly as much as surrounding areas. For the last half a million years, streams have cut deep valleys into the hills to create the rugged terrain evident today. The force of water on the limestone bedrock also has formed bluffs, small glades, caves, springs and sinkholes. Because of the “Ozarklike” qualities of the Lincoln Hills, some plants and animals living here are found almost nowhere else in northern Missouri. Trees, wildflowers and wildlife most commonly associated with southern Missouri can be found in the Lincoln Hills -- trees such as flowering dogwood and spicebush; wildflowers such as dittany; and wildlife such as striped scorpion, ringed and marbled salamanders, fence lizards and rough green snakes. Almost 2,000 acres of the park have been identified as being of statewide significance and have been included in the State Natural Area System.

WILD AREA INFORMATION Wilderness and wildlands across the county are providing important recreational opportunities. The Department of Natural Resources developed a Missouri wild areas system in response to growing demands by wilderness users. The Missouri Wild Area System, which was established in 1978, was modeled in part after the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wild areas are protected for the benefits they provide for hiking and backpacking as well as the benefits they provide as outdoor classrooms for environmental education and as increasingly important reservoirs of scientific information. According to the Department of Natural Resources’ policy, a wild area must be a “spacious” tract of land generally 1,000 or more acres in size. Generally, it must appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, and to possess outstanding opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation. In establishing Missouri’s wild areas system, the Department of Natural Resources selected a wide variety of qualifying areas to represent the broadest cross section of the state’s natural heritage. Today almost 17,000 acres are designated as Missouri wild areas. Each of the protected areas is unique and you are invited to visit these areas as you tour Missouri’s state parks.

NORTHWOODS WILD AREA The portion of Cuivre River State Park north of Highway KK has been designated as the Northwoods Wild Area. These lands surrounding Big Sugar Creek still retain wilderness qualities, rare in northern Missouri’s predominantly agricultural landscape. Big Sugar Creek possesses many of the same characteristics as streams in the Ozarks. It bisects the 1,102-acre wild area and has cut deeply into the limestone plateau. The creek’s forested watershed, steep gradient and gravel bottom are all “Ozarklike” qualities. Along the creek are small bluffs where columbine, false hellebore and false solomon’s seal can be seen. Several small springs along the creek lend an Ozarkian flavor to the area. One of the largest springs in the park occurs along the trail adjacent to Big Sugar Creek. The forests on the hills are dominated by a white oak canopy. Found here are wildlife such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey and woodcock, as well as some not so familiar species like pickerel frogs and dark-sided salamanders.

BIG SUGAR CREEK WILD AREA The 1,675-acre Big Sugar Creek Wild Area lies south of Camp Derricotte. As in Northwoods Wild Area, Big Sugar Creek has sculpted the landscape and features of Big Sugar Creek Wild Area. The creek has carved through Mississippian-age limestone to form its rugged, forested watershed. Bluffs along this portion of the creek are much more rugged than anywhere else along the creek. Several small limestone glades with their unique flora are found on the bluff tops, and on south-and west-facing hillsides. Because of their exposure, lack of moisture and other qualities associated with the deserts of the Southwest, one author has coined the term “desertlettes” to describe these glades. Hikers in the area also will notice several sinkholes and springs that are characteristic of a distinguishable topography known as “karst.” This topography is the result of water that, through the years, has percolated through the underlying limestone bedrock, dissolving and carrying away some of the subterranean rock. Although common in southern Missouri, karst features in northern Missouri can be found only in the Lincoln Hills region. The forests of white oak are home for such wildlife as pileated woodpeckers and marbled salamanders. Along the creek are found wood ducks, kingfishers, great blue heron and beaver. SIGNING All the trails in Cuivre River State Park open for public use are identified with entrance signs and marked at intersections with colored directional arrows. Occasional colored markers are used to identify trails where the route is not clear. At points where hiking and equestrian use separate, symbols indicating the appropriate direction of travel are used. Trail users are advised to watch closely for trail markers, especially where the trail intersects old roads.

  • Carry out what you carry in. If the trail users before you have not done this, you can help by removing their trash too.
  • Small groups are less likely to damage the environment.
  • Dispose of human waste properly. Fortunately, the top six or eight inches of soil provide a system of biologic disposers that decompose organic material. Keeping this in mind, hikers should select a spot at least 100 feet from any open water; dig a small hole no deeper than six or eight inches; after use, fill the hole with loose soil and tramp in the sod; and nature will do the rest.
  • Stay on the trail. Do not take shortcuts. The trail has been laid out to minimize destruction of surrounding vegetation and to prevent erosion.

The trails in Cuivre River State Park are yours. Please help to maintain and preserve their beauty by following these rules:
  • Only hikers, equestrians and backpackers are permitted on the trail.
  • All trail users should register at the trail head or park office before starting their trip.
  • Camping is permitted only by backpackers. No equestrian camping is allowed along the trail.
  • Groups of seven or more persons are permitted to camp only in designated camping areas. While smaller groups are not required to use the designated areas, they must camp at least 100 feet from the trail, 200 feet from any major public use area, and at least one-fourth mile from the trail entry/exit point.
  • Campfires are prohibited, except in the designated backpacking camps. Only downed wood may be used for fires. Backpackers not camping in designated camps will need stoves for cooking.
  • Cutting implements such as saws and hatchets are not allowed on the trail.
  • All other rules and regulations pertaining to park use are applicable to trail users.

Hamilton Hollow Trail -- 1 mile Hamilton Hollow Trail is a loop that begins and ends near the picnic shelter. A wide array of spring wildflowers and some of the largest trees in the park, many over 150 years old, are in the hollow. This trail is marked with green arrows in a clockwise direction. The northern part of this trail is shared with Cuivre River Trail, on which equestrian use is allowed; the remaining sections of Hamilton Hollow Trail are closed to horse traffic. Hamilton Hollow is an easy trail to hike.

Frenchman's Bluff Trail -- 2 miles This popular trail begins and ends near the west side of the picnic shelter. The trail follows Goedde Creek for a short distance before winding up a hill and emerging on top of Frenchman’s Bluff. The 120-foot-high bluff, consisting of Burlington limestone, offers outstanding vistas of the Cuivre River valley. After continuing along the bluff for approximately half a mile, the trail returns to the picnic shelter. This trail is relatively easy to hike, but extreme care should be taken when on top of the bluff as the loose gravel can make the footing unsure. Blue arrows mark the trail in a counterclockwise direction. The valley portion of the trail is shared with the Cuivre River Trail. The bluff portion of this trail is open to equestrian use.

Cuivre River Trail -- 7 miles Cuivre River Trail begins at the equestrian camp and proceeds along Goedde Creek before ascending to the top of Frenchman’s Bluff. At this point, Cuivre River Trail turns right and proceeds north along the entire length of the bluff. The trail eventually heads east to descend into the Big Sugar Creek valley. It follows the valley most of the way back to its original starting point. This moderately strenuous trail is open to hikers, backpackers and equestrians. It is marked with red arrows in a clockwise direction. White arrows mark connector trails that can be taken if shorter hikes or rides are desired. Horses are not permitted in the picnic area.

Big Sugar Creek Trail -- 7 miles The trailhead for Big Sugar Creek Trail is located on the west side of the park road, midway between Camp Derricotte and Camp Sherwood Forest. The trail traverses much of Big Sugar Creek Wild Area, including Sugar Bluff, a bottomland forest along Big Sugar Creek. The trail also passes through steep fern- and moss-covered hollows dissecting the watershed. This moderately strenuous trail is open to hikers, backpackers and to equestrians on the southern half. Shorter hikes of four miles are possible by using the white connector trails. The trail is marked with blue arrows in a clockwise direction.

Turkey Hollow Trail -- 1 mile Turkey Hollow Trail begins and ends at the Sugar Creek Valley Overlook. The trail is a loop, marked in a counterclockwise direction, with a common entrance and exit. The first part of the trail passes through an old field before entering a nice upland forest with many large oak trees. It then crosses a bridge over a small valley and loops around the point of a ridge before heading back toward the overlook tower. Turkey Hollow Trail is named for the wild turkeys that have frequently been seen in the area. This is an easy trail to hike, however, the last part of the trail does have an uphill grade.

Mossy Hill Trail -- 1 mile Mossy Hill Trail begins on the electric campsite side of the campground. It has the same entrance and exit, and then separates to provide a half-mile loop. After following a wooded valley, the trail crosses Mossy Hill, an open forest with luxuriant growths of mosses and lichen, especially the reindeer lichen. Mossy Hill is an easy hiking trail. It is signed in a clockwise direction.

Lone Spring Trail -- 6 miles Lone Spring Trail consists of two three-mile loops, one north and one south of Highway KK. The trail is named for a perennially flowing spring that emerges in the valley at the base of a ridge. The northern portion of Lone Spring Trail, which is open to hikers and backpackers only, loops through Northwoods Wild Area and crosses Big Sugar Creek, a designated state natural area. The southern loop of this trail is particularly nice in the spring when the dogwood and wildflowers are in bloom. This moderately strenuous trail is marked with yellow arrows in a clockwise direction. A connector trail, which allows the option of a three-mile hike, is marked with white arrows. Trail parking is provided along Highway KK. Lakeside Trail -- 4 miles Lakeside Trail, following the entire shoreline of Lincoln Lake, is frequently used by fishermen. During the summer, a good display of wildflowers can be found between the trail and the edge of the lake. Hikers may enter the trail at either the boat launch ramp or swimming beach. Lakeside Trail is signed only at the entrances, but is easy to follow and to hike.

Prairie Trail -- .2 mile Prairie Trail is an easy hiking trail winding through the Sac Prairie, which is located about one-fourth mile south of Camp Sherwood Forest’s entrance road. This special area will give hikers a glimpse of the vast prairies that once covered more than a third of Missouri in pre-settlement times. The trail entrance is located at the Sac Prairie parking lot. A bulletin board at the trail entrance will provide hikers with more information about the prairie and preservation efforts.

Blazing Star Trail -- 2 miles The trail begins on the southern side of Sac Prairie, near where the Prairie Trail starts. After crossing through a wooded creek valley, the trail enters an open expanse of tallgrass prairie. It then alternates between wooded savanna and open prairie, until the loop returns you through the creek valley and back up to the parking lot. Note: A separate trail entrance connects the trail loop to the campground. Summer and fall are the best times to see many of the wildflowers, while the tall prairie grasses reach their peak during the fall. Occasionally, the trail may be closed for a prescribed burn to preserve the prairie, savanna and woodland ecosystems.

Directions to Cuivre River State Park

From St. Louis

Travel west on I-70 or U.S. Hwy. 40 to Exit 210/Wentzville. Take U.S. Hwy. 61 north for 14 miles to Troy. Travel east on Hwy. 47 for 2.8 miles to Hwy. 147, which is the main entrance to the state park.

From Jefferson City

Travel east on I-70 to Exit 210/Wentzville. Take U.S. Hwy. 61 north for 14 miles to Troy. Travel east on Hwy. 47 for 2.8 miles to Hwy. 147, which is the main entrance to the state park.

From Springfield/Rolla

Travel east on I-44 to Exit 276/St. Louis. Take I-270 north for 6.6 miles to U.S. Hwy. 40. Travel west on U.S. Hwy. 40 to Exit 210/Wentzville. Take U.S. Hwy. 61 for 14 miles to Troy, then go east on Hwy. 47 for 2.8 miles to Hwy. 147, which is the main entrance to the state park.

For more information:

Related Links
· USDA Forest Service
· Veterinarians
· More about Horse Camping & Trails
· News by iljiana

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