The Battle That Saved Missouri For The Union On March 7-8, 1862, 26,000 soldiers fought here to decide the fate of Missouri and the West. The 4,300 acre battlefield honors those who fought for their beliefs. Pea Ridge was one of the most pivotal Civil War battles and is the most intact Civil War battlefield in the United States.
There is very little buzz on the net about this trail. I am amazed that it is not on everyone's regional "must-do " list.
This is a wonderful, approx. 2 mile loop trail, located in the Pea Ridge National Military Park. This park is lightly visited, but was the site of a pivotal battle of the Civil War in the West. It is supposedly the most intact Civil War battlefield remaining. In addition, this area was witness to other important historical events that shaped our nation.
Many of the trails in this park are shown on maps provided by the Park Service, but are not named. I call this trail the Williams Hollow Trail.
The trailhead is at the Elkhorn Tavern, which was the site of a major skirmish in the battle. This is on the loop drive in the Park, and there is a good parking area. The Tavern itself is very charming, and is surrounded by zigzag split-rail fences and guarded by a battery of cannon. Unfortunately, the tavern has been closed for business for decades.
Heading north, the trail is a road through the forest that has seen a lot of history. Initially it was a military road that connected St. Louis to this region shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, although I suspect it was a trade route even before then. It was then used as part of the Trail of Tears, with thousands of people forced from their homes in the Southeast passing through here on the way to Oklahoma. Later, the Butterfield Overland Stage rattled up this same road, and later still it served as a route of retreat for the defeated Confederate forces.
The trail drops down gradual slope to a creek , where the foundations of a tannery are visible. The water and the oak trees found here provided the tannic acid needed for this labor. At the most northerly extent of this trail, a sign marks the site of a temporary field hospital for the fleeing Confederate army.
The trail turns southeast and ascends a short but moderately steep slope to the top of a plateau. The remainder of the trail is relatively flat. After walking about 3/4 mile through the forest, the trail turns west onto an old road and opens onto a large field on the south. This field and the Clemens house, with the foundation recently excavated, are surrounded by zigzag split rail fences. After another 1/4 mile, the road ends at the Elkhorn Tavern.
I highly recommend this trail. Without the whispers of past events, this would only be a pleasant walk through the woods. But in light of the events that shaped the lives of the soldiers, the Native Americans, and the settlers that passed through here, in my opinion this is an important, 5-star trail
This park has a driving trail and some horse trails. We walked on the horse trails and drove on the driving trails and went off trail a little to look at interesting things. The visitors center is great and the movie about the battle interesting. While walking on the horse trail near the creek I found and unfired 69 cal Minnie Ball. When I turned it in to the ranger at the visitor's center I thought she was more excited that I was. A good day.
I have completed this Battlefield loop trail by both car and bicycle. Besides all the historical markers, at one point, there is a place to pull over and park for a scenic overlook. Informational signs tell you how many miles and direction to neighboring cities. Roundtop has another scenic overlook, from a viewing shelter, on a short walking trail from the overlook parking area. I remember finding a very small cave on a short trail behind the Elkhon Tavern.
Fun and easy little trip. Great spot for beginners in biking. We had a picnic on the trip as well. I only rated 3 stars as the scenery becomes "boring" and repetitive after a while. I will do it again in the fall as there are trees everywhere with some great scenic shots.
Becky P. on Pea Ridge National Military Battlef...
A nice scenic drive. Scenery is common. Markers along the way tell the story of the Civil War. An interesting place from a historical point of view.
Only rated a 3 star because of commonality of the scenery, would rate a 5 star for history. Easy hike through Pea Ridge National historic sites. Hike focuses on the history of the Civil War Battlefield. Several historic markers, we took our time studying the history. Easy bike trip. Great family outing. We had picnic lunch on the trail. Entry fee to the park.