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Missouri State Parks

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USA Parks
Central Region
Bear Creek State Forest
Bluebird ©
Picnic Table ©
It is always a great day for a picnic in the park.
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Bear Creek State Forest is a captivating natural oasis nestled within the heart of Missouri, enchanting visitors with its diverse and breathtaking beauty. Spanning over vast acres of untouched land, this enchanting forest exudes an aura of tranquility and serenity, boasting towering oak and hickory trees that stretch towards the sky and create a lush canopy, providing shade for the myriad of walking trails meandering through the wilderness. The forest's crystal-clear streams flow gracefully, inviting hikers and nature enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the soothing sounds of babbling water, while its abundant wildlife, including deer, turkeys, and squirrels, adds a touch of enchantment to the overall experience. Bear Creek State Forest is a cherished natural gem, offering solace, awe-inspiring scenery, and an opportunity to reconnect with the wonders of the natural world.
History of the Area
Bear Creek State Forest is a 2,120-acre forest located in northeast Missouri. The history of Bear Creek State Forest can be traced back to the 1930s during the Great Depression when the United States government initiated various programs to alleviate poverty and unemployment. One such program was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

In 1934, the CCC established Camp Mingo in what is now Bear Creek State Forest. The CCC was responsible for the reforestation of the region, as the area had been heavily logged and suffered from erosion and deforestation. Over the years, the men from Camp Mingo planted trees, built roads and bridges, and constructed various facilities within the forest.

As a result of their efforts, the forest gradually started to recover, and by 1954, the state of Missouri acquired the land. It was officially designated as Bear Creek State Forest, and the Missouri Department of Conservation took over the management of the forest.

Since then, the main focus of Bear Creek State Forest has been to preserve and protect the region's natural resources. Wildlife management, including deer and turkey populations, has become an essential aspect of the forest's management plan.

In addition to conservation efforts, Bear Creek State Forest provides recreational opportunities for visitors. The forest offers a range of activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. It also provides educational opportunities and conducts workshops and events related to forestry and land management.

Bear Creek State Forest serves as a valuable natural resource in Missouri, representing the successful restoration and preservation of a once-depleted area.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
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Bear Creek State Forest is located near Lebanon, Waynesville

1. Bear Creek Trail: This is a 3-mile loop trail that offers moderate difficulty and beautiful views of the surrounding forest, including wildflowers in spring and vibrant foliage in fall.

2. Pine Ridge Loop: A slightly more challenging hike at around 4 miles long, this trail takes you through dense pine forests with occasional glimpses of wildlife such as deer or foxes.

3. Oak Savanna Pathway: An easy-to-navigate path ideal for beginners or families with young children; it's about two miles long featuring oak savannas along its route which are rare ecosystems to witness.

4. River Bluff Walkway: This short but steep one mile walk provides stunning panoramic views over the river valley below from atop towering bluffs - perfect for sunset hikes!

5. Wetland Boardwalk Trail: Ideal for birdwatchers, this half-mile boardwalk winds through wetlands where waterfowl can often be spotted year-round especially during migration seasons.

6. Cedar Grove Track: It's an approximately three-and-a-half mile track winding past cedar groves offering hikers serene solitude amidst nature while also providing opportunities to spot various birds species nesting here.

7. Wildflower Waypoint: As suggested by name, this less than a mile pathway blooms into colors every spring showcasing variety of native Missouri flowers making it popular among botany enthusiasts.

8. Bear Lake Loop: Around five-miles round trip, this moderately difficult trek rewards hiker with picturesque view of tranquil bear lake surrounded by lush greenery on all sides.

9. Rocky Knob Circuit: One-of-its-kind within park boundaries, it stretches nearly six miles taking adventurers across rocky terrains demanding good physical fitness level . However, the breathtaking vistas offered throughout journey makes effort worthwhile.

10. Streamside Stroll: Perfectly suited for leisure walkers, it meanders alongside babbling brook under canopy cover spanning just above two-miles allowing visitors enjoy tranquility of forest at its best.
Things To Do in the Area
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Redbeard's Ranch - Lebanon, MO
Horseback Riding
Redbeard's Ranch is a peaceful, scenic, 295-acre, family-oriented campground in Missouri Ozark hill country with approximately 1 mile of Niangua River frontage. Shaded campsites line the riverfront while the wooded hills and open meadows are ideal for other activities such as horseback riding, hiking, bird-watching, and hunting.
14.7 miles from park*

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Area Campgrounds
Redbeard's Ranch
30075 Marigold Drive
Lebanon, MO
Gasconade Hills Resort
28425 Spring Road
Richland, MO

1. Start by heading south on Highway 65 from Sedalia.
2. Continue driving on Highway 65 for approximately 15 miles until you reach Route H.
3. Take a left onto Route H and continue for about 5 miles.
4. Look out for signs indicating Bear Creek State Forest entrance on your right:hand side.

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Missouri State Parks