What do you get when you take a Kentucky Family and plop them onto a Missouri Homestead in the year 1800?
Imagine this, a small log cabin on an open plain next to a spring fed creek on the foot of a small forested mountain (this is Missouri after all) full of deer, raccoon, rabbits, and turkeys ready for eating (after you catch them, that is). Mix in some serious sweat equity and some turnip winters and you get what the Hamilton Family called home.
I call it paradise.
The Hamiltons got to live there for 54 years until they sold it to some miners and loggers who put tons of money into developing the area. We’ll talk more about the history in the upcoming Drive by History Lesson (drive on by to Youtube and subscribe so you don’t miss it). These days the happy little homestead is gone and even the mining village has been over taken by hardwood forest but what is left is something that we can all enjoy. Since 1938 the Rockwoods Reservation has been a favorite destination for Missouri outdoorsmen because of the rugged trails, bat filled caves, and cool refreshing springs. Kezia and I were first told about the Rockwoods reservation by a couple living at the nursing home where I worked. They loved hiking and told me tales every night at dinner of how they had hiked at least once in every single State. Unfortunately, their health didn’t allow them to get around much anymore but they were eager to hear tales from a new generation.
We finally went for the first time when Clarence was only a few months old. I didn’t go into work until 11 AM so we had plenty of time each morning to get up and go for a nice hike before I had to leave. We strapped Clarence into the Ergo and took him hiking. (Sunday Drivers, Ergo carriers are amazing. We never leave home without one. It stuffs nicely into most pockets in our mini-van, and can be put into a backpack. You never know when you’re going to need to get out and walk.) I can still remember that little peanut up on my back. It’s hard to believe he’s handling 2 mile hikes all by himself these days and soon Anders will even be too big for our Kelty Carrier. (Sunday Drivers, this one is a must as well. It’s sturdy for those heftier children and when you get tired you can just set it down like a chair) I’m going to miss having those munchkins on my back so it’s a good thing we have another little hiker on the way.
One of the first trails you see on the way into the park is the Limestone Kiln Trail. It’s named that because right at the entrance you see what remains of an old Limestone Kiln used by the Mining company. The rest of the trail is beautiful Missouri Ozark woodland. The birds sing, the deer prance, and the kids have a genuinely good time. We had such a great time with this hike that we made it a goal to come hike there before work at least a few times a week. Perhaps I need not tell you, but those sorts of ambitious plans rarely take place. However, we have gone back several times. One time we went to visit the nature center. They were offering a free soap making class so naturally Kezia and I thought date night was in order. It was completely free and we came home with 4 bars of hand crafted soap. I just used a bar in the shower this morning in fact! They have tons of other activities throughout the year including a Maple Syrup Festival and group hikes. We missed the festival this year, but it’s on our calendar for next year. This past week, it was time to see if Clarence could handle one of the longer trails and we tried the Rock Quarry trail. This one goes right into where the quarry once was but other than the sheer rock faces it looks like virgin Missouri woodland. For those looking for a longer hike, this trail connects with a 14 mile long trail loop that takes you through 2 other parks. All three of these parks have their roots in Homesteading, Logging, and Mining and now are great places for hiking.
Juanita and Milton (you know the couple from the nursing home?) were right. It’s a great park and it has become one of our favorites. Until next time thanks for Driving With Us!