Location: Prairie State Park , Mindenmines, MO
Activity: Day Hike
Trail: Coyote Trail, Drover’s Trail, Sandstone Trail
Other Trailgoers: None
Would I Go Again: Absolutely
This would be my last hike before I have my spinal simulator implanted; so I wanted to make it a good one (whether I felt up to it or not) but because the temperature was to be in the single digits that night and our gear is no way able to handle that, we opted for a day hike. We went to Prairie State Park, which turned out to be about 1 hour and 45 minutes from us…not a bad drive at all. We knew this would be something different and something different was what we were looking for!
The Cons: The maps. I had a total of FIVE different maps for this place and not one of them matched the other nor were any one of them perfectly correct. If you have to pick one map to take with you, pick the one from the state’s website. We were given 2 maps at the visitor center; one showed only half of the trails and the other showed the trails incorrectly. Also 3 maps displayed the mysterious “backpack camp” at 3 different places on 2 different trails, and we never did find it. I’m not sure it even exists! All-in-all, my biggest gripe was the inaccuracy of the trails. We wasted several hours back tracking trying to find trails that didn’t exist or no longer existed and a backpack camp that was nowhere to be found. Keep in mind, these trails are simply paths that are mowed into the grass….one wrong turn of the mower and the map is bad!
The Pros: Introvert ALERT! They should rename this place to Solitude State Park. If you’re looking to get outdoors and be alone, this is the place to go. It was awesome. The views were amazing. You could see for miles in the distance. Wide open spaces. There are bison here…quite a bit and they are in the prairie with you with no fence in between. Keep that in mind! I would highly recommend watching the sun set here and staying until it got dark; the skies are so wide open, you would be able to see stars well. When we were here, the area around the visitor’s center, (which would be the start of the Drover’s Trail), had recently undergone a prescribed burn, so it wasn’t much to look at, but I’m sure that it will grow back quickly. Once you get 1/2 mile away from the visitor’s center heading east, you’re back into tall grass. This park was just so unbelievably peaceful. I didn’t expect that; hoped for it maybe…but did not expect it. There are plenty of trails to chose from and if you have the right map, you might be able to locate the connector trails so that you can go from one to the other and with so many options, it would seem like a new trail every time you went. It was a nice change of pace to leave the woods behind. This is the prairie though, and there are no trees to block the wind. It was a very cold, very windy day, but I so enjoyed it. My phone died on me about 3 miles shy of the overall hike. Mike got a little over 8 miles on his phone. Easy hiking. Nothing strenuous, more length than challenge. If you want to experience wide open spaces and the frontier feeling, this is the place to go.