History and nature cross paths in Dent County
by Larry Archer
From atop the lookout tower near the center of Indian Trail Conservation Area (CA), visitors can see as far north as Rolla and as far south as Salem, but it’s from the base of the tower where visitors can see into the area’s sad past.
That’s where a plaque describes how one portion of the historic Trail of Tears cuts through the 13,005-acre conservation area, located in Dent County between Salem and Steelville. The Trail of Tears is the collective name given to the routes used in the 1830s during the forced relocation of southeastern Native American tribes to present day Oklahoma.
While the Trail of Tears route is not a designated hiking trail, several of the area’s gravel roads, identified on area maps, run parallel to the trail, said Indian Trail CA Manager Preston Chapman. In addition to this historic route, Indian Trail CA has other opportunities to take in the area’s forests and glades, Chapman said.
“Most of the access trails that are good for hiking are up on ridgetops,” he said. “They’re flat, they’re easy hiking. Yet there are some areas where you can go and find some strenuous hills if you are a more avid hiker or backpacker.”
Indian Trail Conservation Area consists of 13,503 acres in northeast Dent County.
From Salem, take Highway 19 northeast 12 miles.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler