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Where's a great, not-so-challenging place to hike if I live in Rolla?

Last week, Carrie Bellue asked us this on our Facebook page:I'm in south central missouri near rolla, and new to the state. I love nature but don't know where to start exploring. I'm in my 50s so I'm NOT looking for a backpack trip or anything too strenuous. Give me a day trip assignment...where's a good place to begin????

We asked some of the folks who adminster parks in that area for their very best recommendation. Here's what they came up with: Montauk State Park, which is about 50 miles from Rolla has a nice 1/2 mile

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Where should I hike near Rolla?

Fall's fallen, but it brings better views when hiking

STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo. – The pines really do whisper.

With the slightest breeze, hikers on the Whispering Pines Trail at Hawn State Park can hear the murmuring of the tall trees while walking on the path softened by fallen needles.

“We have one of the largest shortleaf pine stands in the state park system,” said Ed Schott, park superintendent for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “That’s a big draw for a lot of people.”

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With the slightest breeze, hikers on the Whispering Pines Trail at Hawn State Park can hear the murmuring of the tall trees while walking on the path.

More to Lake of the Ozarks than just the lake

KAISER, Mo. – Mention Lake of the Ozarks State Park and most people think of water. But they’re leaving out a whole lot of land.

“Something like17,600 acres – we’re the largest state park in Missouri,” said Cindy Hall, a naturalist with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “We’re also one of the busiest; we have over a million visitors a year.”

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Mention Lake of the Ozarks State Park and most people think of water. But they’re leaving out a whole lot of land.

Katy's 20!

MCKITTRICK ­– Picking a favorite section of the Katy Trail presents a pleasant problem.  With 225 miles of hiking and biking trail to choose from, where does someone start?

Here’s a vote for the 16.1 miles between McKittrick and Treloar, where much of the trail squeezes between the base of white limestone bluffs and the muddy Missouri River. In spring, Canada geese nesting on the rocky ledges crane their long necks to watch the riders below.

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Picking a favorite section of the Katy Trail presents a pleasant problem.

10 tips for riding the Katy

  1. Choose the right length. Twenty to 30 miles is a good day ride for a weekend cyclist. Forty to 50 is for regular riders. Anything over that is for hardcore bikers.
  2. The packed gravel of the Katy is fine for all bikes. A mountain bike is great, and the “hybrids” in which riders sit more upright on cushy seats are comfortable.
  3. A helmet is recommended whenever riding a bicycle. However, it is not required on the Katy.

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10 things to know about riding the Katy Trail

5 years later: Johnson's Shut-Ins

MIDDLEBROOK – A billion years of erosion sculpted the beauty that made Johnson’s Shut-Ins a popular state park. A manmade catastrophe altered the landscape in a matter of minutes.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 14, 2005, the AmerenUE Taum Sauk Reservoir, perched on the top of Profitt Mountain overlooking the park, breached, releasing 1.3 billion gallons of water that swept through the valley.

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A billion years of erosion sculpted the beauty that made Johnson’s Shut-Ins a popular state park. A manmade catastrophe altered the landscape in a mat
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