Hit the Trails

By Jesse Wheadon  April 9, 2020

When I moved to Ashland, I needed to get out into the natural world and find a place where I could continue to connect with my desire to be outdoors.  Having a background as an arborist, the woods are my second home.  The birds chirping, the trees rustling in the wind, the bugs flying around. It’s what I love, it refuels me, it energizes me.  I had no idea that I would be in for such a surprise when I began searching for places to hike.  Having relocated to Ashland, I found there are state parks all around! One that I have found is Three Creeks Conservation Area. With 1500 acres, I felt that I had found a gem in the middle of this beautiful state. Trails converge with water which gives Three Creeks the potential to appeal to more than just hikers.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can fish and float in the waters, camp, hike, horseback ride, and bike on the trails. There are also gravel roads where ATVs are allowed.  A large cave can also be found at Three Creeks.  It’s home to bats that are protected; a sign sits at the cave entrance warning visitors to stay out. 

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is another area that has become a favorite. It has maintained trails that go in a nice loop through some interesting spots. One of the areas inside the park is what this park is known for, Devil’s Icebox. It is a cave system that is open for exploring with the proper equipment. As the name describes, you experience a change in temperature as you descend into the cave system. A great spot to spend time on hot humid days.

In addition to Devil’s Icebox the rock bridge is another attraction at the park.  Hikers are allowed to go into the bridge and explore.  My children enjoy this part of the park as there is a stream that runs into the bridge and plenty of rocks to throw into the water.

The third spot I enjoy can be found on the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest. Part of the forest is in Boone county.  It offers open pasture, woods, and trails galore. The extra adventurous may like to bushwack and explore off the beaten path. Mark Twain is home to over 1.5 million acres and scattered throughout 29 counties.

Southern Boone offers a great location for the avid hiker and outdoors-man.  There is no lack of places to explore.  Accessibility to these great spots is one of the many reasons I enjoy this small and growing community.

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