Knob Noster State Park is a 3,934 acre park located in Johnson County, Missouri, just between Sedalia and Warrensburg. The park falls within the Osage Plains, a transition zone where prairie becomes forest. Wild grasses and flowers scatter among trees, similar to a savanna. The savanna continues to become overgrown with trees as the land slowly transitions to a forest. The Osage Plains are made up of sandstones and limestones from the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian ages – approximately 359 million years to 33 million years ago. Coal, clay, and shale can also be found in the bedrock.
The park is named after the nearby town, Knob Noster. Knob Noster was named after one of its two small hills that rose up in an otherwise flat area of the state. Local Indian legend states that the hills rose to memorialize slain warriors. Noster is Latin for “our.” Thus, the name Knob Noster means “our hill.” The park itself was created under the name Montserrat National Recreation Demonstration Area until it was transferred to Missouri in 1946 and given its current name. The park was constructed by the National Park Service, Works Progress Administration, and Civilian Conservation Corps to show that land that had been cleared for farming, mining, or lumber could be restored and reclaimed for recreational use. Today many activities such as hiking, camping, and fishing can be enjoyed at the park.
Knob Noster State Park’s rich environment allows for a medley of plant and animal species to thrive. Creekfork Creek flows slowly and peacefully throughout the park. Many trees grow along its banks, including hickory, oak, redbud, pawpaw, and hackberry. Birds including Great Blue Herons, Wild Turkeys, and Pileated Woodpeckers frequent the area as do fox, opossum, raccoons, white-tailed deer, and bluebirds.
Pin Oak Slough Natural Area is a section of the park that has been designated as a protected area. This area of the park covers 4 acres and is a wet-mesic forest and shrub swamp. In the springtime, depressions in the ground fill with water and become vernal pools. Special species of tree grow here, including Swamp White Oak, Bur Oak, Pin Oak, and Silver Maple. The very rare pale green orchid can also be found here.
Fishing is very popular at Knob Noster State Park. Lakes Buteo and Clearfork are designated for this purpose and are filled with crappie, bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. No motor powered boats are allowed on these lakes. Canoes, rowboats, and other human powered boats are acceptable.
Many trails run throughout the park, including trails for horseback riding and all-terrain bicycling. Beginning at the campground, Discovery Trail is a .75 mile loop where one can view No Name Creek which is filled with minnows, birds, frogs, and deer. North Loop Trail also begins at the campground and navigates 2 miles into the prairie and forest. At about 1 mile long, Buteo Trail circles Buteo Lake and is a great trail for any fisherman. Beavers, snakes, and even jellyfish call Buteo Lake home. Hawk Nest Trail is 1.75 miles long and shares several sections of the trail with the previous two. This trail is filled with oaks, hickories, and wildflowers. Clearfork Savanna Trail is a .5 mile loop that can bring a traveler to Clearfork Savanna. Nearby is Opossum Hollow Trail which is 1.5 miles long and must be accessed by car. This area of the park is currently being restored to an open woodland habitat. Finally, McAdoo Trail is a 7.1 mile trail and is the only one open to equestrians and bicyclists. Hikers are also welcome. This trail travels through bottomland and upland forest and crosses through several creeks. Travelers will pass Christopher Woods, home to some of the oldest timber in the park.
Picnicking and camping are also available on these grounds. Several picnic areas are spread throughout the park and on the shores of the many lakes, including 3 picnic pavilions. The park offers 5 types of camping areas. Basic campsites include a fire ring and pad while electric campsites offer electric hook-ups as well. Equestrian campsites have amenities and facilities for horses. Special-use and areas for group camping are available for reservation as well.
Knob Noster State Park is open for year round use, although campers must enter before the gates close at 10:00pm. For more information, you may call 660 563 2463 or visit them online at http://mostateparks.com/knobnoster.htm. They can also be mailed at 873 SE 10, Knob Noster, MO 65336.