With a few modifications, the 34th annual fall driving tour at the Poosey Conservation Area will occur from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has changed the format slightly as a precaution against COVID-19. But the annual driving tour uphill and down on winding gravel roads through forest and woodlands will proceed.
This popular event allows people to ride or drive on area service roads that are normally closed to public vehicle traffic. A vehicle (or other modes of transport) with high clearance is recommended, as shallow creeks will be crossed. Each year, the tour draws families and community groups riding on towed trailers or on wagons drawn by pickups or horses. Couples in horse-drawn buggies are common, as are riders on horses. Cars and the occasional bicyclist also take the tour on the gravel roads.
Visitors enjoy driving or riding slowly to see the fall foliage. The tour traverses rugged terrain with some steep uphill climbs and downhill descents. The tour begins at Pike’s Lake. An entrance to the lake is reached off Route W and County Road 502. Gates open at noon and the last vehicle will be allowed to begin at 4 p.m.
Due to COVID-19, MDC will not have a tour brochure and stops along the way. In the past, those stops have included demonstrations of conservation practices and a chance to discuss nature or natural resource issues with MDC staff. Visitors can still stop along the way to rest the horses, picnic, hike a trail, or visit the limestone outcrop above a creek called the Panther’s Den. But MDC requests that people maintain safe physical distancing when out of vehicles, and please wear masks when interacting with MDC staff.
For tour information, contact MDC Resource Forester Samantha Anderson, 660-646-6122. Maps and information about Poosey Conservation Area are at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZSS.