Since a limestone gorge in Cincinnati played a significant role in my development as a naturalist (see Wonderland), it seemed appropriate to take our grandsons to one in Columbia, Missouri, on this warm, February day. After grandma packed a picnic lunch, we all headed down to the Gans Creek Wild Area, just east of Rock Bridge State Park.
Selecting a two mile loop in the southeast portion of the refuge, we hiked out to a chain of clifftop overlooks that offer spectacular views of the gorge. We then descended to the creek where we enjoyed our lunch on the rocky stream bed and spent an hour searching for fossils, colorful stones and crawdads. Finally coaxing them away from the creek, we began a long, winding ascent to the trailhead, passing a recessed cave, climbing along a side stream and then hiking through a mixed forest of oak and eastern cedar. Of course, several rest stops were necessary along the way.
Enchanted with their exploration of the "river" and their "mountain climbing" to and from Gans Creek, the boys will surely remember their visit to the gorge. Hopefully, this natural wonderland will have the same long-lasting effects on them that the Cincinnati gorge had on me, fifty five years ago.