One of my father’s perennial Christmas gifts to my brothers and me is a renewed subscription to Backpacker Magazine. After my March issue came in the mail, he texted me, “Check out page 61.” I flipped through the glossy pages of gear and gorgeous views to find that someone at Backpacker Magazine had learned what Missouri hikers have long known — the overnight-distance trail between Peck Ranch Conservation Area and the Current River is a walk not soon forgotten.

Participants of Twin Pines Conservation Education Center's annual backpacking program take a break to pose for a photo at Klepzig Mill.

Participants of Twin Pines Conservation Education Center’s annual backpacking program take a break to pose for a photo at Klepzig Mill.

A hiker’s eye view
The trail begins at the very edge of the Peck Ranch Wildlife Refuge, deep in the heart of the elk restoration zone. A hiker sets out from the trailhead parking lot down a gravel road to meet up with the Ozark Trail, his or her home for the next two days.

To the right is the boundary of the legendary Peck Ranch — the land that fostered the rebirth and restoration of Missouri’s wild turkey, whitetail deer, and native elk population. Its boundary is a simple hog fence, a relic of early conservationists’ efforts to keep free range pigs out.
When hiked in early mornings during the fall, the hiker might even hear the sound of a bull elk bugling over the gravel crunching underfoot.

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