Bryant Creek State Park hiking tour set for Oct. 6
Members of the Sierra Club and Ken McCarty, Missouri State Parks natural resources management director, will lead a hiking tour of Bryant Creek State Park, off N Highway just north of the Douglas-Ozark County line near Rockbridge, from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.
A similar hiking tour will be led through Ozark Mountain State Park near Branson from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3.
Bryant Creek State Park, with 2,917 acres consisting of thick oak and pine forests and nearly 2 miles of river hills and bluffs along Bryant Creek, was one of four state parks added to the state’s park system in December 2016, during the last days of former Gov. Jay Nixon’s last term. The other parks were Ozark Mountain State Park northwest of Branson, Eleven Point State Park on the Eleven Point River about 45 miles east of West Plains in Oregon County, and Jay Nixon State Park near Taum Sauk Mountain State Park in southeast Missouri.
More than 100 area residents braved near-freezing temperatures on Jan. 8, 2017, for guided hikes through what was to become Bryant Creek State Park. Bill Bryan, then the Missouri State Parks director, welcomed the crowd and introduced other state park employees who led attendees on a choice of three hikes through the land Bryan called “a beautiful place.”
Seven months after Eric Greitens was sworn in in 2017, the St. Louis Post Dispatch published a story in August saying the state park, along with the other tracts of land purchased by former Governor Nixon's administration, would remain closed indefinitely.
Bill Bryan, the state parks director who had hosted the public’s introduction to Bryant Creek State Park, was fired shortly after Greitens took office.
Greitens resigned as governor in June 2018 amid accusations that he violated campaign disclosure laws and may have tried to blackmail a former mistress.
A story by Jack Suntrup in May in the Post-Dispatch mentioned the possibility of “joint operating agreements” between MDC or private groups that might allow the new state parks to open. The idea had also been suggested in earlier meetings and reports. The Post-Dispatch story concluded by saying that Bryant Creek State Park and the other three parks “await development as [current] Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s administration assesses Nixon’s acquisitions.”
Informational meetings for the four parks were held this summer, including a June 11 meeting in Ava about Bryant Creek State Park.
The four parks have reportedly begun the “conceptual development plan” process preceding their future opening to the public.
The Oct 6 hike through Bryant Creek State Park will be 3-4 miles with rough terrain and steep ascents and descents. Organizers point out that there are no trails in the parks yet. Those planning to participate are advised to wear sturdy hiking shoes and consider bringing trekking poles, rain gear, snacks and water. The hikes are free and open to the public, but reservations are requested at https://bit.ly/2mnaYVo. The RSVP website also includes instructions about where the group will meet for the hike.