Thousand Hills State Park, Kirksville

4.5
#38 of 103 in Nature in Missouri
Thousand Hills State Park is a 3215acre Missouri state park located in Adair County, two miles (3 km) west of Kirksville. The park features 703acre Forrest Lake and Native American petroglyphs.
In 1950, the nearby city of Kirksville was in need of a larger and more reliable water supply than the Chariton River could provide. Following voter passage of a special bond issue, land was acquired to construct a dam across Big Creek, a tributary of the Chariton. Upon completion in summer 1952, the new body of water was named Forrest Lake in honor of Missouri Governor Forrest Smith. The family of local physician George Laughlin donated surrounding the lake for the establishment of a recreation area. The city of Kirksville matched the donation by purchasing an additional. The lands were presented to the state of Missouri free of charge in return for the promise of establishing a state park. Upon its official dedication in July 1953, it was named Thousand Hills State Park, in honor of Doctor Laughlin's Thousand Hills Farm that had formerly occupied the land.
A series of Native American rock carvings, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, can be found in an enclosed observation and interpretation center. The carvings are estimated to date back at least 1,500 years.
The park's lake is used for fishing, swimming, and both motorized and non-motorized boating. A marina offers boat and equipment rentals. Two campgrounds provide a total of 57 campsites. Overnight accommodations are also offered at seven duplex cabins. Trails are available for hiking and bicycling and include the Forest Lake Trail, which is being developed in cooperation with the community volunteer organization FLATS (Forest Lake Area Trail System).
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Thousand Hills State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
76 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Great place to eat and real clean and the food isn’t too expensive for what you get and the service is amazing.  more »
  • Grew up in Kirksille, and going to the Lake was a treat. Spent a lot of time camping there as a Boy Scout. Nice swimming area during the summer. Lots of picnic areas on the loop road, which is also gr...  more »
Google
  • The beach is free and has a volleyball court which is lots of fun. The water is shallow and gets deep very gradually making it perfect for kids playing. In mid-July we were there and the water was perfect maybe even warm. There are rocks to avoid all over the beach so be careful where you step. No lifeguard is on duty and they do stay open past 7 in my experience. In fact, it is perfect to go between 6 and 8 as very few people are there
  • Great hike/bike trail that runs just over 10 miles one way with a place to camp in the woods. Park had a nice designated, paved bike path which flows over hills making for a nice ride or walk. Tons of grassy knolls, places to BBQ, and play the day away. Also a nice, clean Marina and loads of places to explore by water via boat, kayak, paddle board. Great stop! Watch out for the racoons though we saw at least 5 (4 in a pack and 1 solo). Also, watch your speeds in and out of the park...tons of deer!

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