Spring arrived early this past weekend with temps in the middle 60’s and blue skies! Cole and I shoved his Husky, Balto into the car and took off south from Springfield on Hwy 65 towards Branson to hike the Yellow Trail at Busiek State Forest https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/busiek-state-forest-and-wildlife-area. One of seven blazed trails in the park,we occasionally heard the sound of gunfire from the pistol range and the traffic on Hwy 65, but otherwise it was a great 4.3 mile hike.
Some highlights from the trip:
- I remembered to bring snacks!!!
- I was smart and checked Alltrails https://www.alltrails.com/ before heading out so I was ready with my crocs for the river crossing which we had to do twice. I hate hiking in wet shoes!
- I felt really empowered with this hike as we accomplished the 4 miles in 2 ½ hours so I was pushing it.
The trails we encountered were well blazed and also had occasional metal signs posted that indicated where on the trail you were-there were 3 or 4 of these on the yellow trail. I’m not a good map reader, but Cole is so we didn’t take the longer route. There are several offshoots from the trail that are more rugged and will give you a longer hike, so if you are looking to spend more time check those out. I noticed that the uphill climbs really pushed my heart rate and the downhill trek really tested my leg strength. I had jelly legs at one point, but quickly recovered as I have been working out more and climbing more stairs to get ready for hiking.
There were a lot of people out hiking with their dogs and kids, mountain bikers and folks riding their horses. This park accommodates all types of recreation so be prepared. Balto is a fairly well behaved dog except when he is on a leash-then he tries to pull your arm off. Keep your pets and young children close on the trails and near the water. Balto is no swimmer and some areas drop off quickly in the river, though the bottom is still visible.
The shooting range is on the west side of Hwy 65 so hiking on the east side was preferable to me. There are trails off of the shooting range as well. Primitive camping is available with a special use permit and can be obtained by calling (417) 895-6880.
Surprisingly, we did not see a lot of wildlife on Sunday. There were a few birds and a huge vulture that flew close to the treetops, but no squirrels or other small game were visible. Of course, we had a large dog with us and he may have helped to scare any small critters away. All in all a good hike, good company and I can’t wait until the next one. So pack up your snacks, dog, extra water and get out there.
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