Historic Site Arrow
Geographic Location: northwest of
Length: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: 3/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: June 2016
Overview: A lollipop loop atop a bluff overlooking the
Site Information: https://mostateparks.com/park/arrow-rock-state-historic-site
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=533881
Directions to the trailhead: In central
take I-70 to SR 41 (exit 98). Exit and
go north on SR 41. Drive SR 41 north
12.6 miles to the second entrance for Arrow Rock State Historic Site on the
right (the first entrance is for the campground, the second for the ). Turn right to enter the site, and park in the
paved parking lot near the Visitor
Center . Visitor Center
The hike: When most people think of Daniel Boone, they think of the
Cumberland Gap, the Wilderness
Road, and the settlement of Kentucky. Yet in 1799 Boone moved to his final home in Missouri,
which at that time was a sparsely settled wilderness that only became part of
the United States
in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. Boone’s sons Daniel Morgan Boone and Nathan
Boone did much exploring and developing on the Missouri
frontier, and their father continued to hunt and trap as his health allowed.
When Boone died in 1820 at the ripe old age of 85, he was buried beside his wife Rebecca in an unmarked grave in
which is a town along the Marthasville, MO Missouri River just west of St.
Louis. In 1845,
their remains were supposedly exhumed and moved to a famous cemetery in , although questions have arisen about
whether the correct bodies were exhumed.
Cemeteries in both Frankfort,
and Kentucky claim to hold Daniel
Boone’s remains. The town of Boonville,
MO is named for Boone’s sons, who ran a salt business there in the early 1800’s. The name , the county in which most of
Arrow Rock State Historic Site is located, derives its name from the salt
sources the Boones exploited for their business. Saline
Although Arrow Rock has ties to the Boone family, the area’s high bluffs overlooking the west bank of the
Missouri River were well-known before
the Boones arrived. The phrase “rock of
arrows” appears on a 1732 French exploration map of this area. The name Arrow Rock comes from the fact that
local Indians used rock from this bluff to make points for their arrows. A ferry that operated here in the 1820’s gave
travelers along the Santa Fe Trail safe crossing of the Missouri
The town of
Arrow Rock was designated a
National Historic Landmark in 1966, and in the same year Arrow Rock State
Historic Site was established. The town
features several buildings that date to the 1800’s, and the historic site
features a modern campground, a fishing lake, and a with some nice exhibits
about the area’s history. For hikers, the
site features only one short trail, the 1.6 mile lollipop loop described
here. This trail offers a pleasant walk
that explores the natural environment near Arrow Rock. Visitor
The trail starts at a large brown trailhead sign on the east side of the parking lot. The grass/dirt treadway descends moderately through the woods using a couple of broad switchbacks. The trail is marked with plastic pale yellow rectangles nailed to trees.
At 0.1 miles, you cross narrow but paved
Santa Fe Spring Drive
and reenter the woods on the other side.
Although no signs indicate such, this point marks the start of the loop
portion of this hike. The return route
will come up the road from the right, so you are hiking the loop clockwise.
Santa Fe Spring Drive
for 0.1 miles, you cross another paved site road. Notice the nice stone bridge to the right,
which carries the paved road across the same stream the trail crosses on a
wooden footbridge. A moderate climb
comes next, as you gain about 90 feet of elevation while climbing on a narrow
|Climbing the bluff|
At 0.4 miles, you reach the top of the bluff that made Arrow Rock famous. This bluff top is now occupied by a picnic area, which in turn is accessed by a paved site road that the trail follows for a short distance. The park map indicates a scenic overlook here, but trees blocked any possible view on my visit.
The trail heads back into the woods as it assumes a southward course. The next 0.3 miles pass through a rather undeveloped portion of the site, making for good birding opportunities. I saw many common woodland birds here including cardinals, robins, sparrows, mourning doves, and woodpeckers. I also encountered quite a few mosquitoes on the hot muggy morning I hiked here, so be sure to wear bug spray with high deet concentration if you hike here in the summer.
0.7 miles into the hike, you pass through the cul de sac at the rear of the site’s campground. The route now assumes a meandering course near the site’s southern boundary just downhill from the campground. Some nice clusters of purple phlox blooming along this section of trail brightened my path.
At 1.1 miles, the trail curves right to begin passing through a narrow strip of woods with the campground on the right and the site’s fishing lake on the left. Some narrow spur trails link the campground to the lake, so feel free to explore the lake if you wish. A lot of poison ivy lives beside the trail here, so take care where you step.
At 1.3 miles, you cross the main campground entrance road and reenter the woods on the other side. The trail now begins following a slightly rocky old road. One wooden trail footbridge sits atop old stone road bridge supports. At 1.5 miles, the trail comes out at
Fe Spring Drive near the spring that gives this
road its name. Turn left and walk
briefly uphill on the asphalt road to close the loop, then turn left to retrace
your steps up the trail to the parking lot to complete the hike.