Thousand Hills State Park

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Coordinates: 40°10′46″N 92°38′21″W / 40.17944°N 92.63917°W / 40.17944; -92.63917
Thousand Hills State Park
Missouri State Park
Aerial view of Thousand Hills swim beach & cabins area
Country United States
State Missouri
County Adair County
Coordinates 40°10′46″N 92°38′21″W / 40.17944°N 92.63917°W / 40.17944; -92.63917
Area 2.81 sq mi (7 km2)
Founded 1952

Thousand Hills State Park is located in Adair County, Missouri, two miles (3 km) west of Kirksville, Missouri. The 3,215 acres (13 km2) park was established in 1952. Primary features are the 703-acre (2.84 km2) Forrest Lake and Native American petroglyphs.


In 1950 the nearby city of Kirksville was in need of a larger and more reliable water supply than the Chariton River could continue to provide. So following passing of a special bond issue vote that spring, land was acquired to construct a dam across Big Creek, a tributary of the Chariton.[1] Upon completion in summer 1952, the new body of water was named Forrest Lake in honor of Missouri Governor Forrest Smith. Meanwhile, the family of local physician George Laughlin donated 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) surrounding the lake for the establishment of a recreation area. The city of Kirksville matched this by purchasing an additional 1,150 acres (4.7 km2). All of this was presented free-of-charge to the state of Missouri in return for the promise of establishing a state park. Upon its official dedication in July 1953, it was named Thousand Hills State Park, in honor of Doctor Laughlin's Thousand Hills Farm that had formerly occupied the land.[2]

Boaters enjoying the new Thousand Hills State Park Marina, mid-1950s.


Petroglyphs: A series of Native American rock carvings, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, can be found in an enclosed observation & interpretation center. These carvings date back at least 1,500 years by some estimates.[3]
Camping: Two campgrounds, 57 campsites total, are available. Campground One is open April through October each year offering both basic and electric campsites along with modern restrooms, RV dump station, showers, water, and playground. Campground Two is open year-round and offers the same amenities as Campground One with the exception that all campsites are electric.[4]
Cabins: In addition to campsites, Thousand Hills State Park features seven duplex cabins available for rental. All cabins overlook Forrest Lake and are within easy walking distance of both the marina / dining lodge area and the swimming beach. Each unit is fully heated and air-conditioned with full bath, picnic table, patio, kitchen, barbecue grill, TV, towels & linen.
Boating: Boats with outboard motors up to 90 horsepower are allowed, along with canoes and small sailboats. All private boats must have a city permit, which can be purchased for a nominal daily or seasonal fee at the marina. A fully equipped marina offering boat and equipment rentals along with convenience store grocery items is available.
Fishing: The most common fish species found in Forrest Lake are large-mouth bass, walleye, crappie, and channel catfish.
Swimming: A large swimming beach with lifeguard, snack bar, changing areas and showers are open daily May 28 to September 6 from 1pm to 6pm, weather permitting.
Picknicking: Over sixty picnic sites, four open shelters, and one enclosed shelter are available. Two large playground areas are located near picnicking areas as well.
Hiking/biking The park features several hiking trails suited for a variety of experience levels. A six-mile mountain biking/hiking trail can also be found.

Annual events[edit]

  • Each spring Forrest Lake hosts the Baker/McConnell Kids Fishing Tournament, an event for children of all ages and skills.
  • Thousand Hills State Park is the site of the NEMO Triathlon the second weekend of each September.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ We Would Just Like To Say Thank You by Chris Sieren & David Snyder, The Chariton Collector, Spring 1984
  2. ^ A Book of Adair County History, Published by the Kirksville-Adair County Bicentennial Committee, 1976
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links[edit]