Summer is in full swing, and there is an abundance of wildflowers. The guided hike will offer ample opportunities to see wildflowers and bison so everyone should bring their binoculars and cameras.

Go where the buffalo roam right here in Missouri for a fun day trip.

You can visit Prairie State Park just about any time, but you can learn more about the tallgrass prairie of Missouri on a guided bison hike at this state park near Mindenmines on July 8. The walk will be from 10 a.m. until noon and is free to the public.

Summer is in full swing, and there is an abundance of wildflowers. The guided hike will offer ample opportunities to see wildflowers and bison so everyone should bring their binoculars and cameras. 

The hike will be a two-mile trail with uneven terrain. Hikers should wear sturdy shoes and bring water, snacks, insect repellent, a hat and sunscreen.     

Missouri State Parks is celebrating 100 years in 2017.  Visitors can experience all the park system has to offer with the Centennial Passport. Visit mostateparks.com/passport for more information. 

For more information about the event and to register, call the park at 417-843-6711. The park is located at 128 NW 150th Lane near Mindenmines. For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Hiking trails at Prairie State Park

Coyote Trail

3.2 miles, Easy

Hikers on Coyote Trail may come across a den of coyotes with the pups playing nearby or hear a songbird scolding them to get away from its nest in the sumac patches. A covey of northern bobwhite quail may be seen as they scatter away or an owl might be heard in the evening. To the west of the trail, elk may be viewed in the distance. Just off the trail is a backpack camping area, where hikers may experience the howl of a coyote or the bugle of an elk in the twilight hours. This trail shares a section with Drover’s Trail. White connector 1 links this trail to Gayfeather Trail.

Drover’s Trail

3 miles, Easy

Drover’s Trail gets its name from a time when the cowboys drove cattle across this prairie on their way to market. The trail is divided into two loops. Bison often roam through the small loop and it is a good place to see Indian paintbrush in the early spring.

The larger loop starts out by crossing over a small stream that is frequented by prairie wildlife. The trail continues up a hill where the prairie can be viewed and it is easy to imagine how the cowboys felt as they watched the prairie grasses sway back and forth in the wind. Northern harrier hawks and short-eared owls may be seen gliding overhead in the winter. A .25-mile white connector 3 can be used to shorten the hike. If a longer hike is desired, white connector 2 leads to Sandstone Trail. 

Gayfeather Trail

1.5 miles, Easy

On Gayfeather Trail, hikers can experience what the settlers might have seen as they headed west, including bison grazing on the prairie. The trail is within Regal Prairie, which is named after the endangered regal fritillary butterfly. This butterfly and others can be seen resting on the colorful prairie wildflowers. Hikers wanting to view more of what early settlers could have observed can follow the white connector 1 for one-fourth of a mile and continue the experience on Coyote Trail.

Path of the Sky People Trail

1.75 miles, Easy

Path of the Sky People Trail loops through Tzi-Sho Prairie, which is translated from the American Osage to mean "Sky People." The path goes through a hardpan prairie where the Henslow's sparrow or an upland sandpiper can be heard.  Other prairie wildlife such as badgers or white-tailed deer may be seen. White connector 5 can be followed for about 0.5 mile, crossing the road to join Sandstone Trail to extend the trail experience.

Sandstone Trail

4.25 miles, Easy

Sandstone Trail leads past East Drywood Creek, which encompasses about a mile of a prairie headwater stream that is designated an Outstanding State Resource Water. The stream has rocky bottoms and deep pools lined with sandstone. Bison and white-tailed deer are often viewed along the trail. This trail is also excellent for observing prairie birds like the eastern meadowlark, dickcissel, or possibly Bell's vireo. If a shorter loop is preferred, the .11-mile white connection 4 can be used. White connector 5 can be followed for .50 mile, crossing the road to join Path of the Sky People Trail to extend the hike. White connector 2 connects to Drover’s Trail. 

Path of the Earth People Trail

2 miles, Easy

Path of the Earth People Trail travels through Hunkah Prairie, which is translated from the American Osage to mean “Earth People.” The prairie landscape is dotted with gayfeather and white wild indigo wildflowers as well as big bluestem, little bluestem and cord grass. The trail follows a section of East Drywood Creek as it meanders through the area. American bitterns are known to hide among the cattails and turkey vultures ride the thermals above the prairie. White-tailed deer are often spotted in the area.

-Courtesy Missouri State Parks