Chillicothe, Mo. – A gravel road from Pike’s Lake leads up hills and down hollows, near the Panther’s Den and through the woods. Autumn color and conservation traditions will be celebrated along that winding route from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, at the 27th annual Poosey Conservation Area Fall Driving Tour.
The Missouri Department of Conservation welcomes visitors to tour a rugged corner of Livingston County. Motorists will be able to drive through the historic and scenic area once known as the community of Poosey. The route uses a trail not normally open to vehicles. Roads are graded but hills and dips will prompt slow going and four-wheel-drive or high-clearance vehicles are recommended.
“This is a part of the area where you normally are not allowed to take vehicles,” said Phil Sneed, an MDC forester and area manager. “People enjoy it because it’s at a time of year when fall color is peaking, and there’s a lot of history on the area.”
Early settlers depended on trees for fuel, cabins and fences. They viewed forests as a sign of fertile soil. Settlers found the timbered hills similar to the Poosey region of Kentucky. So the name stuck for a wooded, hilly area bordering prairie country.
Much of the rugged 5,900-acre conservation area is forested today. But the area also includes old fields, crop fields, grasslands and fishing lakes. Stops along the tour route will highlight conservation practices on the area to be benefit wildlife, forestry and native plants. Resource professionals will be available to explain techniques and answer questions. For example, one woodland area is being thinned and managed to help bobwhite quail. Some parts of the area have timber-stand improvements that can boost tree health while also helping deer and turkey populations.
One stop along the tour is at the foot trail leading to the Panther’s Den. A short and easy hike takes visitor across a clearing, into the woods and across some wooden bridges to a limestone bluff with a cave-like opening.
The Green Hills Trail Association will also be hosting a “hike thru” on Poosey’s hiking and bicycling trails. The hiking even will begin at parking lot No. 20.
Driving tours will begin at Pike’s Lake on the northeast side of the area. The driving tour will take about one hour to complete without stops. But visitors should allow more time for stops and discussion. This year’s tour theme will focus on how trees benefit people.
Fall colors were just beginning to turn on some maple and ash trees the week of Oct. 7. A few oaks held scarlet foliage in spots. Sumac and Virginia creeper are already bright red. The leaf color on most trees should be vibrant by tour time.
Poosey Conservation area is northwest of Chillicothe and reached via Missouri 190 and Route A.
For a map of the area, go to http://on.mo.gov/GNTgA3 and under Area Resources on the left side of that page click on Area Map. For more information, call 660-646-6122.