By Don Corrigan
If you’ve spent any time in Columbia, Mo., you know it can be a base for visiting nature sites and more. Like many J-school grads, this writer took advantage of many opportunities while living in COMO.
Stephen Paul Sayers, a Mizzou research professor, recently authored, 100 Things To Do In Columbia Before You Die, by Reedy Press.
No doubt, many Mizzou grads thank their lucky stars that they can already check off some of his bucket list items. However, Sayers also has “to-do” ideas that alumni may have missed on their COMO stays.
Sayers’ book will undoubtedly inspire some return trips for the former residents of Missouri’s premier university town.
Among the Sayers’ outdoor/nature sites that this writer also would heartily recommend:
• Eagle Bluffs – a perfect spot for hiking and bird watching. You can watch bald eagles gliding on the breezes below you.
• Three Creeks – there’s so much to take in here. Don’t be shy about getting off the trail and examining sinkholes, caves, and rocky bluffs.
• Rock Bridge – lots of trails are available with varying degrees of difficulty. The topography includes forested areas, streams, natural springs and caves. The famous Devil’s Icebox is temporarily closed to protect the bats.
• Katy Trail – there are so many locations to visit along the Katy Trail. Sayers recommends the MKT Trail Spur which provides Columbia’s nature and fitness enthusiasts access to the full trail that sprawls 240 miles across the state of Missouri.
• Burr Oak – just off the Katy Trail near McBaine is the awe-inspiring, 380-yeay-old burr oak tree. It’s tied for the largest such tree in America and has survived floods, droughts, tornadoes and lightning strikes.
In addition to sites recommended by Sayers, visitors might want to add a journey to Graham Cave east of Columbia, the Pinnacles north of Columbia, and climbs up the bluffs at Rocheport, along the Katy Trail, and at Easley to the south.
Near Rocheport, there are a number of restaurants and wineries worth a visit, including the Les Bourgeois Vineyards, which Sayers describes and which he recommends as a scenic destination for food and drink.
After a nature climb or outdoor hike, it’s good to know that Columbia boasts many restaurants to address any appetite that’s worked up from some strenuous recreational activity.
Among eateries profiled in Sayers’ book are: Booches, Broadway Diner, Shakespeare’s, Ernie’s, Harpo’s, Lilly’s Cantina, Gator Wagon, Jerk Hut, Buck’s, Lee Street, Big Daddy’s, and more.