Missouri: Cuivre River State Park|
Posted on Tuesday, January 30 @ 00:00:00 MST by iljiana
678 State Route 147
Troy, MO 63379
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
THE ETHICS OF GOOD TRAIL USE
RULES OF THE TRAIL
- 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Lakeside Trail -- 4 miles
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
Prairie Trail -- .2 mile
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
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.
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: http://www.mostateparks.com/cuivre.htm