We are very lucky in Missouri. We are blessed with a state park system that is consistently rated in the top four in the nation.

Through Missouri state parks, our most outstanding landscapes are preserved for everyone’s enjoyment. Many of our forests, glades, prairies, streams and lakes are there for everyone to enjoy.

In the spirit of their mission to preserve our natural landscapes and cultural landmarks, Missouri State Parks has just introduced three new state parks. Over a three-day weekend, guided hikes were held at all three parks. The purpose of these hikes was to introduce the public to the new parks, and seek their input on the development of these parks.

With a low of 18 degrees on Friday’s hike, and a high of 23 degrees on Sunday’s hike, you would assume that nobody showed up. You would be wrong.

Each hike had anywhere from 30 to 50 in attendance. Many in attendance were locals, many with close ties to the properties. It was interesting to see their enthusiasm in the idea of these special properties being preserved for maybe eternity.

Here is a brief write-up on each park:

Friday, Jan. 6: Ozark Mountain State Park

In March of 1865, in the Roark Creek valley in the western most Taney County, Joel Garber was granted a post office. Thus, the community of Garber was born.

The house at Pigman Ranch (Eleven Point) where the Beatles stayed.

From about 1900, the Jones family had a farm there. John Fullerton, a descendant of the Jones family and the unofficial historian, maintains a Facebook page “Life in Garber.” I would encourage you to go there for some neat pictures. Many of the buildings from the Jones farm are still there today.

This 1,011 acre park is very scenic and features Ozark glades and many “bald knobs” with incredible views. The hikers  braved the cold, some hiking to the top of a bald knob for the spectacular view. The rest took part in a mile hike down into a holler and back up through a gap to the starting point.

The park is in the development stage and not open yet. The goal is to get it open for the public as soon as possible, with hiking trails being available.

Ozark Mountain State Park is located northwest of Branson. From Hwy. 65, take Hwy. 465 west to Hwy. 76. Turn left and then an immediate left on Old 76 Road. Turn east on Noland Road. The park is located at the intersection with Sycamore Church Road.

Saturday Jan. 7: Eleven Point State Park

This is probably my favorite park out of the three. This is because of the Eleven Point River, maybe the best float trip river in Missouri.

This is also Missouri’s only designated Wild and Scenic River. This river is a must float at least once a year for me, maybe, the last 20 years.

Of course, what makes this park famous is not me floating the Eleven Point River. It is the fact that the Beatles stayed at the Pigman Ranch for several days in 1964.

Ranch owner Reed Pigman was a pilot and had a contract to transport the Beatles. He maintained his own grass air strip across Hwy. Y from the ranch. The Beatles needed a break before their final stop in New York on their world famous 1964 American tour.

Flying his little single engine plane, Mr. Pigman brought the Beatles to the ranch for several days of country living and horseback riding. For more information and to see some historic pictures, simply google Pigman Ranch Missouri. The final auction and last chance to win a piece of Beatles history was Saturday, July 23, of last year.

This 4,167 acre park is about one-third pasture. This will probably be returned to native prairie grasses. As you hike along the river, you can see many examples of Roubidoux sandstone ridges. These ridges are full of examples of mature oak trees and mature short leaf pines. We were even shown a rare example of a Spanish or Turkey oak.

This park is still in the early planning stages, also. It was stressed that this park is excellent for developing hiking trails and possibly primitive campsites.

The Eleven Point State Park is located about 12.5 miles west of Alton on Hwy. 160. Turn south on Hwy. Y for about one-half mile. The goal is to have the park open soon for hiking.

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