Missouri’s newest state park offers an outstanding backpacking experience in the heart of the rugged St. Francois Mountains.

Jay Nixon State Park features 1,230 acres of wooded, rugged terrain that includes opportunities for backpacking with a connection to the Ozark Trail.

Located in Reynolds County, the park’s rugged landscape serves as a backcountry access to the Ozark Trail, which links Taum Sauk Mountain and Johnson’s Shut-Ins state parks.

The park features rugged terrain and unblazed trails, making it perfect for those familiar with wilderness travel and seeking a true backcountry experience. The park also includes a rare mountaintop lake, which is home to bluegill and largemouth bass.

The property was purchased in 2015 with funds received from a Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration settlement with the American Smelting and Refining Company LLC (ASARCO). The Missouri Trustee Council, which includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, reviewed the proposed purchase at a public meeting on Dec. 18, 2014, at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

Currently, there are no facilities at the state park, which can only be accessed from the Ozark Trail. In the future, basic services such as campsites, water and restroom facilities may be added.

Bordered by Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and close to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, Jay Nixon State Park makes a great addition to anyone seeking a backcountry experience. The park is named for Missouri’s 55th governor.

With the addition of Jay Nixon State Park, Missouri State Parks now offers 92 state parks and historic sites.