This area between Salem & Steelville is big in size and history

Daniel Boone once said, “I was never lost in the woods in my whole life, though once I was confused for three days.” 

While I haven’t been confused in the woods for three days, I have been confused for a few hours!

One recent incident took place in the Indian Trail Conservation Area located in Dent County, between Salem and Steelville. 

As I was headed down Highway 19, I was reflecting on the times that my daughter and I made Indian Trail Conservation Area our pitstop to have a picnic and stretch our legs while on our Missouri road trip adventures. 

I decided to revisit this special spot with a dear friend and explore parts of it I hadn’t seen before. 

Honestly, I should have looked over my map and researched it a bit more before going into the myriad of roads throughout the forest. 

If I had done this, I would have known that this isn’t a typical MDC area. It is massive! 

The area covers 13,503 acres and is mostly forested. Yet, the longer I drove, I saw more and more food plots and ponds for the wildlife, as well as dolomite glades dotting the hilly Ozark terrain. 

I discovered various creeks and Blackwell spring, too!  

As I found myself getting a bit lost and turned around at times, I spotted many recreational opportunities scattered all throughout those hills.  

If you appreciate a day of fishing or manning a small watercraft, Blackwell Lake covers just under 26 acres and includes a fishing dock and a boat launch. 

It is stocked with black bass, white bass, and sunfish. There’s handicapped-accessible parking and a privy located near the lake, too. 

For those who enjoy target practice, an unstaffed handicapped-accessible shooting range is located within the area. It’s open for rifles and pistols every day of the week except on Mondays. 

It opens half an hour before sunrise and closes a half an hour after sunset. Just watch the signs for any possible changes in hours of operation.  
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If you relish in the act of primitive camping, there are 5 designated spots to pitch a tent for some much-cherished peace under the stars. 

Just remember to pack out what you pack in as trash service is limited. 

As I traveled the webwork of roads, I noticed signs marking the “White River Trace.” Sadly, these mark one route of the Trail of Tears that went through this region. 

The forced migration of Cherokee Indians was a tragic event in our history. The signs throughout the conservation area are a solemn reminder of our not-so-distant past. 

My companion for the day did more than calm my nerves on some of the less-traveled roads. He also pointed out that at one point he had a childhood friend who lived in the area when they were in school together. His father was the agent on duty. 

As we drove past the home and the lookout tower, he reminisced about climbing to the top of it one time. According to my friend, the views from the top are outstanding.  

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