Take a day trip to a place that few people know exists

If you are looking for a short day trip to an out of the way, rarely visited place that few people know exists, take a hike to Shady Eighty Ranch Lake in Lincoln County, in Missouri’s Cuivre River State Park.  

In fact, the only way to get to this place is to hike in on a trail. There is no open road access.  

I first found Shady Eighty Ranch Lake while hiking the Lone Spring Trail in Cuivre River State Park. This 5.2 mile trail has two main sections.

There is the South section and the North section with a connector in-between for a shorter hike. The North section also has a backpack camp and about a half-mile long spur trail leading to the lake.  

The parking lot for the trail is at the intersection of Lincoln Hills Drive and Highway KK in the far north area of the park.  

When I was first hiking this trail with a friend we came to the spur trail that had a sign pointing north that said Shady Eighty Lake. We thought, let’s take it and see what is there.

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This has now become one of my favorite places to hike to. On subsequent visits I’ve only seen a couple of people fishing or picnicking or no one at all.  

I’ve found out that this area of the park was once a church-owned summer camp that later was acquired by the state park system and added to Cuivre River. They have left it isolated and mostly unknown. There are fish in the lake.  

For the shortest hike in to Shady Eighty, go east from the parking lot, turn left at the junction and cross Highway KK and proceed about a half-mile to the spur trail on your right.

It takes about 25 minutes to get there this way. There are no open bathrooms or running water.

(Dennis Bresnahan can be reached at (314) 868-7297 or dennisbresnahan@yahoo.com.)

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