SAM A BAKER STATE PARK
With the ancient St. Francois Mountains, the unspoiled natural landscape and the cool waters of the St. Francois River and Big Creek, Sam A. Baker State Park has something for everyone. Whether getting away for a day of relaxation or spending considerably more time exploring the region, it's certainly worth the trip.
A boat launch offers access to the river, and anglers hook bluegill, bass, crappie, sunfish, goggle eye and catfish in the river and creek. Canoeists float the Big Creek in spring and early summer, while the river is a good float year-round. Several miles of hiking, backpacking and equestrian trails provide glimpses of the area as the early settlers found it. To explore the natural and cultural history of the park, visit the park's visitor/nature center.
Visitors can spend the night in either the rustic cabins or one of two large campgrounds featuring modern restrooms, hot showers, dumping station and laundry facilities. For horse lovers, a separate equestrian camp is provided. The shaded picnic area is equipped with a playground, covered shelters and picnic tables. If guests prefer to eat indoors, the dining lodge overlooking Big Creek features excellent country cooking.
At Sam A. Baker State Park, the possibilities are endless and the choice is all yours.
Sam A. Baker State Park has 18 rustic cabins made of native stone and wood with modern conveniences. Most have fireplaces, kitchens, full baths, heating and air-conditioning, outside grills, firepits and picnic tables. They are equipped with bedding, towels and kitchen utensils.
Cabins are available for rent April through October. Reservations can be made by calling (573) 856-4223 or toll free at 1-800-334-6946. Reservations are not accepted by e-mail. Following are the rates for 2006.
Cabins 1, 2, 3, 4 and 14 -- $75 per night minimum (based on first four people)one-bedroom cabins with one queen bed; one hideaway bed or futon in the living room; fireplace and air-conditioner
Cabin 8 -- $75 per night minimum (based on first four people)handicap-accessible, one-bedroom cabin with one queen bed; one hideaway bed or futon in the living room; central air
Cabins 5, 6, 16 and 19 -- $80 per night minimum (based on first four people)one-bedroom cabins with two full beds; one hideaway bed in the living room; fireplace and central air
Cabins 9, 10, 11 and 12 -- $90 per night minimum (based on first four people)two-bedroom cabins with one queen bed in each bedroom; one futon in the living room; central air
Cabins 15 and 17 -- $90 per night minimum (based on first four people)two-bedroom cabins with one queen bed in each bedroom; one hideaway bed in the living room; central air; fireplace
Cabin 13 -- $50 per night minimum (based on two people)small stone sleeping cabin with one queen bed, shower and small refrigerator and fireplace
Cabin 18 -- $180 per night minimum (based on first ten people)five-bedroom cabin with four queen beds; one full bed; fireplace and central air
Add $5 for each additional person.
There is a two-night minimum stay for all reservations, three nights for holiday weekends, with a one-night deposit required. Deposits will be forfeited for early departure or for cancellation notice less than seven days. Deposit is refundable, less $10, if cancelled at least seven days prior to reservation date. There is a $10 fee for any cancellation.
Pets are not allowed in the cabins by state statute, however, a dog house can be placed outside the cabin for $5 per stay.
Swimming is available at multiple access points in both the St. Francis River and Big Creek. Day usage is from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
There is a concrete boat launch located at Campground 1 on the St. Francis River. It is open at all times except during heavy flooding. There are no launch fees or motor restrictions; however, the size of the river limits usage to smaller boats. Due to the river current shifting in recent years, the launch area is usually too shallow for anything but canoes and small boats.
The cabins, dining lodge, store and canoe rental are operated by your concession host, Michael Fleming. Raft, kayak and bicycle rentals are also available. Let Mike or a member of his staff make your visit to Sam A. Baker State Park more enjoyable. For more information about the concession facilities, visit the Web site at www.samabaker.com or call (573) 856-4223.
Rentals for float trips are available at the park store. Canoes, one-person sit-on-top kayaks and six-person rafts are available for rent on the scenic and secluded St. Francis River. Big Creek is floatable in high water with kayaks only.
Fishing is available at multiple access points in both the St. Francis River and Big Creek. Day usage is from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Primary fish are bass, blue gill, sunfish and catfish.
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There are two picnic shelters available for use and can be reserved for $35 per day. If not reserved, the shelters are available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis. There is one shelter located in the main day-use area and the other is north of the Big Creek bridge. Occupancy is 75 people per shelter.
There is a playground located at the day-use area.
Mudlick Trail : Mudlick Trail provides an intimate journey into one of the oldest mountain regions of North America: the St. Francois Mountains. It is a moderate to very strenuous 12-mile loop trail, climbing from 415 feet above sea level in Big Creek Valley to 1,313 feet above sea level at the top of Mudlick Mountain. It is open to hiking, backpacking and equestrian use. Most of the trail is located in the Mudlick Mountain Wild Area, one of the most significant, undisturbed natural landscapes in Missouri.
The trail begins by ascending the bluffs above Big Creek where three stone hiking shelters, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, offer outstanding views of the surrounding countryside and the ?shut-ins? valley below. The trail then drops into Mudlick Hollow, a narrow rock-strewn valley interspersed with pools of clear water. The trail follows Mudlick Hollow for about three-fourths of a mile before beginning a gradual climb to the summit of Green Mountain. Horses may bypass the rocky Mudlick Hollow on the ?horse friendly? Hollow Pass Trail. Hikers may use the Hollow Pass Trail as a return route after visiting the scenic hollow. The view from Green Mountain is best during the fall and winter when the trees in the thick oak-hickory forest have shed their leaves. From the southern end of Green Mountain, the trail descends rapidly, via a series of ?switchbacks,? into Logan Creek valley. A dense stand of red cedar grows in the valley, providing a cool shaded corridor for the trail. Once through the valley, the trail begins a steady climb to the top of Mudlick Mountain. It then traverses the rugged eastern slope of the mountain back to the starting point.
Trailheads : Mudlick Trail has three entrance points. The hiking-only trailhead is located on the west side of Highway 143 across the road from the dining lodge. The remaining trailheads are located in the equestrian camp. Equestrian campers can access the trail in camping area #1. The equestrian trailhead for day users only is located just north of the assistant superintendent?s residence. Parking areas and water are available at all trailheads. During the winter months, when most of the water lines are shut off, water can be obtained at the park office. While on the trail, water from Mudlick and Logan creeks may be used, but it should always be treated before consumption.
Bicycle Trail : The park offers two miles of paved bicycle trail. This accessible trail is one-way and extends from Campground 1 to the park store. Bicyclists, hikers, skate boarders and roller skaters are permitted on the trail. Motorized vehicles (except motorized wheelchairs) and horses are not permitted on this trail. Trail accesses are located throughout the park with trail parking located just off Hwy. 143 across from the park office. Other trail accesses are located in Campground 1, Campground 2 and near the park store. Water is available from April through October at water faucets located in both campgrounds. A vault toilet is located at the trailhead in Campground 1 and modern restrooms are located behind the park store. The terrain is fairly level throughout all portions of the trail.
Naturalists provide a variety of interpretive nature programs and a summer recreation programmer provides recreation and leisure programs at the park. Programs are designed to assist visitors in learning about and enjoying the natural and cultural resources of the park. A popular activity, Junior Naturalist Hour, assists children and their families in achieving the Missouri State Park Junior Naturalist Award, a colorful shoulder patch.
Programs are provided on weekends in late spring and fall, and one or more programs are available on most days during the summer months. Programs may include evening amphitheater talks, hikes into the park?s wild area or natural area, demonstrations of park plants and animals, outdoors skills instruction and much more.
Call the park at (573) 856-4424 or check bulletin boards upon your arrival to find out what programs or activities are being offered during your visit.
When possible, naturalist staff will also conduct interpretive activities for schools and organized civic and youth groups at the park and in nearby communities. Call the park at (573) 856-4424 to arrange a scheduled visit or activity for organized groups. The interpretive program is housed in the nature/visitor center building.
Directions to Sam A. Baker State Park
From St. Louis : Travel south on I-55 to Festus. At Exit 174, take U.S. Hwy. 67 south for approximately 75 miles. Turn right/west onto Hwy. 34 and travel five miles before turning right onto Hwy. 143, which leads into Sam A. Baker State Park. Campground 1 is located near the park entrance; Campground 2, the visitor center, cabins and shelter areas are two additional miles.
From Jefferson City : Travel south on U.S. Hwy. 63 to Rolla. Take Hwy. 72 to Salem. Approximately 13 miles past Salem, take Hwy. 32 east. Travel to Hwy. 21 south. Follow Hwy. 21 south as it turns into Hwy. 49. At Des Arc, turn left onto Hwy. 143 which leads into Sam A. Baker State Park. Campground 1 is located near the park entrance; Campground 2, the visitor center, cabins and shelter areas are two additional miles.