Reduce the stresses of everyday life with free MDC hiking, backpacking program March 27

News from the region
Published Date

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Grab your walking shoes and join the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) for a free hiking and backpacking basics program at Gist Ranch Conservation Area (CA) on March 27, from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

“Hiking is a great way to get outside and reduce the stresses of everyday life,” said MDC Conservation Educator and program instructor Travis Mills. “Join us to learn more about the history and current-day management of Gist Ranch Conservation Area. At the end of the hike, there will be an opportunity to discuss, handle, and demonstrate various backpacking supplies.”

Advance registration is required for this event. Participants must be ages 12 and older; those younger than 16 years old must be accompanied by a registered adult. All participants will meet at Gist Ranch Shooting Range before going to the trailhead.

Mills suggests wearing comfortable, sturdy hiking shoes, bringing a backpack with a sack lunch, snacks, and drinking water. COVID-19 precautions will also be followed including social distancing and masks. This group hike will follow a 4-mile trail, considered moderate in difficulty, with mostly flat terrain with some inclines. In addition to hiking, the group will learn about water filtration, backpack stove options and the area’s natural resource management techniques.

“We’ll also have a chance to talk about the habitat we see along the hike and how it’s managed,” said Mills. “Once people experience hiking, they will see what a great activity it is and how being outdoors in nature can reduce the stresses of everyday life.”

Gist Ranch Conservation Area is rich in natural communities. Spring and fen areas are populated with wildflowers in the summer and provide habitat for salamanders, frogs, and other wildlife. Dolomite glades surrounded by savanna occur frequently on the ridges and on south and west facing slopes on the area. The area has quality habitat for deer, turkey, and quail.

Gist Ranch Conservation Area is in Texas County, approximately five miles west of Summersville and 14 miles east of Houston. More information about Gist Ranch CA can be found here.

If you are having difficulty registering online, you can contact the phone registration vendor at 1-888-283-0364. Event call center hours are Monday - Friday, from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. This phone number is for event registration only. Questions about this event can be emailed to MDC Conservation Educator Travis Mills at

Staff at MDC facilities across the state are holding virtual and in-person programs. A listing of these programs can be found here.