This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.
Hey, remember when I said I was going to make blog posts about all the State Parks we’ve visited?? Yeah, back in 2016? I suppose I should get back to that.
Incidentally, we went camping at Van Meter last weekend, but I’ll put that in a separate post. Before I do that, perhaps I should share some of our “greatest hits” from previous years.
Van Meter State Park is the closest state park to Marshall, so it’s the one we’ve visited the most since we moved here in 2014. There’s a small playground and a campground (that we only recently camped at!), and a few relatively light hiking trails that hit various parts of the park.
A few of the trails head down into wetland areas, and for short legs, they’re pretty easy to handle. We’ve probably visited those most often, as we could put Calvin down and let him roam mostly freely (albeit slowly). The other trail we’ve visited with relative frequency is the Lakeview Trail that (spoiler alert) goes around Lake Wooldridge.
The lake is especially nice because you can get close to it, but you don’t have to. The kids get some interesting scenery to check out, and we get a halfway decent hike. That trail gets “spider webby” as the Summer goes on, so it’s definitely better in the late Spring/early Summer months.
The other interesting note about Van Meter is that a series of Native American mound structures are present on the site. The Missouri American Indian Cultural Center is on the park grounds and has a few displays to explain this history to visitors. The mounds found at Van Meter aren’t as large as those found in Cahokia, but have similar features.
One tradition we’ve tried starting for New Year’s Day is to go hiking. This year proved a tad chilly for that (high of 11 F, low of -8 F), so we put off our hike a few days (but still went!). Typically, we’re the only visitors at that time (because duh…), so it’s nice being out in the new year with a fresh, nature-esque perspective.
Again, I can’t emphasize how slow Calvin is. Seriously. He’s the slowest hiker ever.
Anyway, Van Meter is a fun park to visit. I’m not sure it’s a “destination state park,” but the camping experience was near perfect and the hiking is relatively simple for kids and adults, alike.