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Missouri State Parks

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USA Parks
Northeast Region
Thousand Hills State Park
Bluebird ©
Picnic Table ©
It is always a great day for a picnic in the park.
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20431 State Hwy. 157
Kirksville, Missouri   63501

Phone: 660-665-6995
Toll Free: 800-334-6946
Reservations: 877-422-6766
Email: park email button icon
As the population of Kirksville expanded in the 1950s, the city sought to increase its supply of fresh water. Thousand Hills State Park was created following the construction of the 573-acre Forest Lake to serve as the city's reservoir. Today, the 3,215-acre park offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the best of northern Missouri.

The park's central feature is the lake, created by the damming of Big Creek. While the reservoir supplies water to the community, the park's natural features recall a time when woodlands and savannas covered northern Missouri. Visitors can experience some of these natural wonders by hiking the park's trails.

The cool waters of Forest Lake offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including swimming, fishing, boating and skiing. Hiking, mountain bicycling and nature study are popular on-land activities. An interpretive shelter displays the park's petroglyphs - rock carvings left behind by the area's inhabitants more than 1,500 years ago. Visitors wanting to extend their stay can sleep in one of the cabins near the dining lodge or camp in a modern campground to experience more of what Thousand Hills State Park has to offer.
Thousand Hills State Park features seven duplex cabins overlooking Forest Lake. The cabins are open March through November. All cabins are air-conditioned/heated. Linens and towels are provided. Each unit has a bath with shower, patio, picnic table, barbecue grill and color TV. Kitchen amenities include service for eight people, apartment size stove, refrigerator and microwave.

Check-in time is after 3 p.m. and check-out time is by 11 a.m. There is a $5 charge for each additional person over four per room with a maximum of six persons allowed per room. Rollaway beds and cribs are available at a nominal fee per day. No tents or camping on cabin grounds is allowed.

A photo ID and major credit card are required at the time of registration. Late arrivals are advised to call before 6 p.m. so proper arrangements may be made. The office closes at 9 p.m. daily. To inquire about availability or make a reservation, please contact the concessionaire at (660) 665-7119 or (660) 665-2811. Reservations are not accepted by e-mail.

Cabin rates for 2006 are shown below.

Water recreation is a highlight of Thousand Hills State Park's outdoor activities. The lake and its 17 miles of shoreline make it popular for fishing, water skiing, paddle boating, canoeing and motorboating.

At the marina, you can rent all types of boats including paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, fishing boats and pontoons. The marina also rents dock slips on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis as well as has a variety of ski and boating accessories for rent.

At the park store, located in the marina, you will find grocery items, all your picnic necessities, bait, firewood, ice, gas and permits for fishing and boating.

For your convenience, MasterCard, Visa and Discover are honored. Please contact the concessionaire for rates and additional information at (660) 665-3712.
The beach at Thousand Hills State Park is open May 31 to Sept. 1 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Lifeguards are on duty full time. Dressing rooms and showers are also provided. A snack bar is open at the beach during these times offering soda, chips, water and candy.

The beach will be closed on days the concessionaire and the park superintendent feel the weather is inclement. Please check the boathouse for possible closing information or call the park office at (660) 665-6995.
Located in close proximity to the park's dining lodge is a paved boat ramp approximately three stalls wide. A city permit is required on all private boats. Outboard motors over 90 horsepower are not allowed to operate on Forest Lake.

Thousand Hills State Park boasts excellent fishing opportunities at the 573-acre Forest Lake, which is stocked with crappie, largemouth bass, walleye and channel catfish among others.

All largemouth bass more than 12 inches but less than 15 inches, and all walleye less than 18 inches in total length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.

Fish may be taken only with pole or rod with an attached line, limb lines or bank lines with the exception of carp, which may be taken by gig, longbow or crossbow during statewide seasons (no trot lines or jug lines allowed).

Not more than three poles or rods may be used by one person.

Bullfrogs and green frogs may be taken during the statewide season, but only by hand, hand net, gig, longbow or hook and lines.

Seining or trapping live bait is prohibited.

Outboard motors over 90 horsepower are not allowed to operate on Forest Lake.

Thousand Hills State Park is located near Kirksville

There are over 60 picnic sites located within Thousand Hills State Park including four open shelters and one enclosed shelter. The shelters provide a perfect venue for hosting large family gatherings or special outings and can be reserved in advance for a fee.

The enclosed shelter can be reserved for $50 per day and has an occupancy limit of 75 people. The shelter includes two grills, 12 tables, benches, a stove, refrigerator, electricity and a restroom facility with water on location.

Point Shelter, an open shelter that accommodates up to 69 guests, includes two grills, a children?s playground facility, electricity and water. The reservation rate is $40 per day.

The remaining three open shelters, Shelter 2, Dead Man?s Curve Shelter and the beach shelter, all can be reserved at a rate of $30 per day. They accommodate between 36 and 48 guests and include outdoor grills. If not reserved, all open shelters are open to park visitors at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Additional children?s playground facilities are located at Campground 1 and 3, as well as at the main day-use picnic area.

For shelter reservation information, please contact the park office at (660) 665-6995.
Biking enthusiasts can enjoy a 17-mile trail system. However, the terrain is challenging and not suitable for beginners.

Mountain biking trails are available but they require advanced skills due to steep inclines and rocky paths.

Cyclists should be aware that some areas may have limited access during hunting seasons or other special events.

The Red Bud Trail offers an intermediate level ride with beautiful views of forests, prairies, savannas, streams and lakes.

Remember to bring your own bike as there's no rental service provided within this park area in Missouri.

Always wear helmets while cycling on these rugged terrains for safety precautions against potential accidents or falls.

It's important to note that all cyclists must stay on designated pathways at all times respecting nature preservation efforts here.

Ensure you're equipped with water bottles since hydration stations aren't readily accessible throughout the route network.

Nature Programs
Park naturalists provide regularly scheduled interpretive programs during the spring, summer and fall months. Programs include nature walks, games and informative discussions on topics including the area's natural landscape and endemic wildlife. Also, an interpretive shelter displays the park's petroglyphs or rock carvings believed to have been left behind by the area's inhabitants more than 1,500 years ago.

For additional information regarding interpretive programs, please check the bulletin boards at the park office and boathouse or call the park office at (660) 665-6995.
Birdwatchers can enjoy spotting various species like red-tailed hawks, bald eagles and waterfowl in the park. The forested areas are home to woodpeckers, warblers and other songbirds. Birding enthusiasts may also spot wild turkeys or owls during their visit. There is a bird checklist available for those interested in identifying different types of birds they see.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
April 12
park review stars; one to five We had a blast. the point pavillion was perfect for our family reunion.
June 20 Peacefull, Very Clean, and Beautiful by John from kirksville
park review stars; one to five This park is a great place to bring your family. Everyone from the visitors to the employees where friendly. It is very big and can accomodate a simple bank fishing venture or taking the boat out with the family and dropping a line. Right around the corner in Kirksville makes this easy to access anytime.
February 5 Nice Cabins by Okies from Shawnee
park review stars; one to five Thosand Hills Park is a very beautiful park and the cabins are nice with a great view of the lake. Sunrise is a great time of day with the fog coming up off the lake. If you enjoy a quite time and clean area this is a great place to visit. We will be Back!!!
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Area Campgrounds
Lakeroad Village RV Park
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Kirksville, MO
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Thousand Hills Trail : Thousand Hills Trail was developed as a cooperative project of the Community Betterment Association of Kirksville, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The trail traverses both Big Creek Conservation Area and Thousand Hills State Park and passes through one of the few remaining bigtooth aspen stands in the state. The western portion of the trail follows the shoreline of Forest Lake and offers good opportunities for viewing waterfowl and other wildlife. The trail is approximately five miles long and is signed in a clockwise direction with red arrows. It is open to foot and bicycle traffic only; no equestrian or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use is allowed.

Red Bud, Oak and Hickory Trails : Located in the developed section of the park, in close proximity to the marina and dining lodge, are three short recreational trails. The trails, Red Bud, Oak and Hickory, are used for hiking only.

Craig's Cove Loop Trail : In addition to Thousand Hills Trail, there are two other trails that are exceptional for mountain biking. Craig?s Cove Loop, the shortest of the three trails, is a three-mile loop trail located on the west side of Forest Lake. This trail is suited perfectly for beginners and average riders.

Mountain Biking/Hiking Trail : A new six-mile connector trail linking Craig?s Cove Loop to Thousand Hills Trail follows the south end of Forest Lake and is considered to be the most difficult of the three mountain biking/hiking trails.

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Missouri State Parks