THOUSAND HILLS STATE PARK
THOUSAND HILLS STATE PARK
20431 State Hwy. 157
Kirksville, Missouri 63501
Toll Free: 800-334-6946
As the population of Kirksville expanded in the 1950s, the city sought to increase its supply of fresh water. Thousand Hills State Park was created following the construction of the 573-acre Forest Lake to serve as the city's reservoir. Today, the 3,215-acre park offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the best of northern Missouri.
The park's central feature is the lake, created by the damming of Big Creek. While the reservoir supplies water to the community, the park's natural features recall a time when woodlands and savannas covered northern Missouri. Visitors can experience some of these natural wonders by hiking the park's trails.
The cool waters of Forest Lake offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including swimming, fishing, boating and skiing. Hiking, mountain bicycling and nature study are popular on-land activities. An interpretive shelter displays the park's petroglyphs - rock carvings left behind by the area's inhabitants more than 1,500 years ago. Visitors wanting to extend their stay can sleep in one of the cabins near the dining lodge or camp in a modern campground to experience more of what Thousand Hills State Park has to offer.
The beach at Thousand Hills State Park is open May 31 to Sept. 1 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Lifeguards are on duty full time. Dressing rooms and showers are also provided. A snack bar is open at the beach during these times offering soda, chips, water and candy.
The beach will be closed on days the concessionaire and the park superintendent feel the weather is inclement. Please check the boathouse for possible closing information or call the park office at (660) 665-6995.
Located in close proximity to the park's dining lodge is a paved boat ramp approximately three stalls wide. A city permit is required on all private boats. Outboard motors over 90 horsepower are not allowed to operate on Forest Lake.
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There are over 60 picnic sites located within Thousand Hills State Park including four open shelters and one enclosed shelter. The shelters provide a perfect venue for hosting large family gatherings or special outings and can be reserved in advance for a fee.
The enclosed shelter can be reserved for $50 per day and has an occupancy limit of 75 people. The shelter includes two grills, 12 tables, benches, a stove, refrigerator, electricity and a restroom facility with water on location.
Point Shelter, an open shelter that accommodates up to 69 guests, includes two grills, a children's playground facility, electricity and water. The reservation rate is $40 per day.
The remaining three open shelters, Shelter 2, Dead Man's Curve Shelter and the beach shelter, all can be reserved at a rate of $30 per day. They accommodate between 36 and 48 guests and include outdoor grills. If not reserved, all open shelters are open to park visitors at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
Additional children's playground facilities are located at Campground 1 and 3, as well as at the main day-use picnic area.
For shelter reservation information, please contact the park office at (660) 665-6995.
Park naturalists provide regularly scheduled interpretive programs during the spring, summer and fall months. Programs include nature walks, games and informative discussions on topics including the area's natural landscape and endemic wildlife. Also, an interpretive shelter displays the park's petroglyphs or rock carvings believed to have been left behind by the area's inhabitants more than 1,500 years ago.
For additional information regarding interpretive programs, please check the bulletin boards at the park office and boathouse or call the park office at (660) 665-6995.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
Thousand Hills Trail : Thousand Hills Trail was developed as a cooperative project of the Community Betterment Association of Kirksville, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The trail traverses both Big Creek Conservation Area and Thousand Hills State Park and passes through one of the few remaining bigtooth aspen stands in the state. The western portion of the trail follows the shoreline of Forest Lake and offers good opportunities for viewing waterfowl and other wildlife. The trail is approximately five miles long and is signed in a clockwise direction with red arrows. It is open to foot and bicycle traffic only; no equestrian or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use is allowed.
Red Bud, Oak and Hickory Trails : Located in the developed section of the park, in close proximity to the marina and dining lodge, are three short recreational trails. The trails, Red Bud, Oak and Hickory, are used for hiking only.
Craig's Cove Loop Trail : In addition to Thousand Hills Trail, there are two other trails that are exceptional for mountain biking. Craig's Cove Loop, the shortest of the three trails, is a three-mile loop trail located on the west side of Forest Lake. This trail is suited perfectly for beginners and average riders.
Mountain Biking/Hiking Trail : A new six-mile connector trail linking Craig's Cove Loop to Thousand Hills Trail follows the south end of Forest Lake and is considered to be the most difficult of the three mountain biking/hiking trails.