Many feel March is the time to 'go take a hike'

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bill and Kathy Harrison, Columbia, Mo., enjoy March as much or even more than the other months of the year. This is the month they hike the many trails in the state.

The Harrisons moved to Missouri from Colorado sevaral years ago and thought they would miss the mountains and the hiking adventures they experienced. However, they, like many other backpackers and hikers, have found that there plenty of trails and adventures within the state.

"I start seriously hiking about a month before the spring turkey season opens," Bill, who is also an avid turkey hunter, said. "Climbing hills and three to four miles of hiking gets me ready for hunting and the exercise I get makes it easier to go up the ravines when I hunt turkeys in the Ozarks."

The Harrisons were pleased to find the beauty of nature and all the wildlife they see while on their slow paced wilderness hikes.

"In March, before the trees leaf out give us a view that we wouldn't see in the summer months and its always uncrowded.," Bill said. "Sometimes we find shed antlers and take time to investigate the area we are hiking. Its not unusual to see a flock of wild turkeys or a herd of whitetail deer along the trails. Hiking is an excellent reason to find solitude and enjoy the beauty of nature."

Other backpackers and hikers always take a camera along because as Dave Boyer, Belton, Mo., says, "You never know what you might see along a trail so I always bring my digital camera along on hikes. It is small enough tthat I can put it in a pocket and its ready to shoot in a hurry. I have photographed birds and animals in the wild as well as some good nature shots from sunsets to wild flowers. The camera has become a necessity when I go hiking."

Boyer recently visited Ha Ha Tonka State Park for the first time and was pleased to find the park had some very good hiking trails along with scenic beauty.

"The park has some great scenery as well as some steep hilly trails and some shorter trails that also offer great views," Boyer said. "I was pleasently surprised by the park and although I had heard of Ha Ha Tonka for years, I just never stopped when in the Lake of the Ozark area."

There are many places in the state to take a hike. From a wilderness, quiet communion with nature on an Ozark trail to the more than 200 miles of the Katy Trail, hikers have many places to enjoy.

"Not only are there scenic trails in the Ozarks," Boyer says, "there are also many hiking and walking trails in towns and citys in the state." He pointed out a book by William Eddy and Richard Ballentine called Hiking in the Kansas City Area which contains a guide to 70 hiking and walking trails.

The beauty of nature and a chance for solitude and photography are some of the reasons to get out and enjoy some of the state's trails. Its easy to see why hiking is a growing outdoor activity, not only for veteran hikers, but also for a family to enjoy nature first hand.

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