Path of the Earth People Trail: Prairie State Park is a 2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Mindenmines, MO that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Path of the Earth People Trail travels through Hunkah Prairie, which is translated from the American Osage to mean Earth People. The prairie landscape is dotted with gayfeather and white wild indigo wildflowers as well as big bluestem, little bluestem and cord grass. The trail follows a section of East Drywood Creek as it meanders through the area. American bitterns are known to hide among the cattails and turkey vultures ride the thermals above the prairie. White-tailed deer are often spotted in the area.
It was a very boring drive from north Joplin to the trail, but it was a nice change to be on a trail that isn't interrupted by suburbia and crowded with people. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and we were the only people on the trail. The landscape was a little lacking, but it was my first time hiking through a prairie so, again, a big change.
My husband thought it was "desolate" and "boring" because it is a loop trail through some pretty unentertaining terrain.
I like getting away from the city, so the only thing that was a huge downer for me were the stretches of mud and ankle-deep water in some spots. I was not prepared for that.
I probably won't do this trail again since I'm sure there are others close to the same distance that will be as enjoyable.
This trail is actually situated in the Lester R. Davis Memorial Forest right across the road from Prairie State Park. Mr. Davis planted the area, which had been devastated by strip mining, with plants, trees and shrubs from all over the place. As a result, forest is now densely forested with very non-native species. I'm not used to seeing tall pines in Missouri!
The MDC has done some recent work in the area attempting to prevent strip pits from eroding the road. Last time I was here, I found some pieces of coal uncovered by the bulldozers. The forest still bears the scars of strip mining, and no amount of planting will ease the deep furrows between long piles of mining waste, but it's encouraging to know that Davis seized an opportunity to make a difference in SWMO.