Wilson’s Creek trails tell story of Civil War battle

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, just a mile or so south of Republic High School, Missouri, where a network of walking trails takes you more than 150 years into the past. It’s here that 537 Union and Confederate soldiers killed each other and thousands were wounded over the course of two hot days in August 1861. Both sides hoped the fight would determine Missouri’s course — slave state or free.

The battlefield park draws about 175,000 visitors a year who view artifacts and learn about the battle at the Visitor Center before heading out for a 4.9-mile driving tour around the park’s perimeter. You can learn a lot that way, reading informational placards at the parking areas.

But to get a real feel for what unfolded over those two days, it’s worth exploring the 10 miles of hiking trails within the park. Many who’ve heard of the national battlefield are unaware of the network of hiking paths that offer a great way to get some exercise and fresh air while absorbing some significant Missouri history.

Most of the trails are wide, grassy paths mowed close to the ground and easy to navigate. A couple of them will give you a good workout as you work your way up to cannon batteries on high ground.

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