Gorgeous trees, a wonderful beach, water glistening in the sun, and gorgeous campgrounds where you can make new friends – Pomme de Terre State Park truly is the best of both worlds. Wrapped around the Pomme de Terre Lake, this park offers a little bit of water, a little bit of land, and a whole lot of fun. This gorgeous park spans across 734 acres in Hickory County in the state of Missouri. The name of the park translates to “apple of the earth” which seems appropriate since this park truly is a fresh apple in the lives of people who come here to escape the rotten smell of the cities. Back in the day, the park and the Pomme de Terre River was a border between the Native Americans and the settlers, and a former mining ground for lead and zinc, as well as a lumber center of the entire area. In the early 1960s, Pomme de Terre River was transformed into a 7,800-acre lake which still stands today and provides an escape from the mundane life and offers a whiff of fresh air to those that need it the most.
Arriving at the apple of your eye, or apple of the earth will be as easy as saying apple! The park is situated in one of the most beautiful areas of the state of Missouri, surrounded by small towns where you can get groceries and essentials you need for camping. The closest town is Pittsburg, only three miles away south of the park. If you are coming from the east, the closest town is Urbana, about ten miles away. The road from Pittsburg is clean and flat, but it has seen better days. However, you will find no issues when driving towards the park, as the signs are clear and you cannot miss it. Driving from the east is the same, except for the fact that the road is windier, so you do need to be more careful. The entire area is somewhat populated, so even if you get lost, you can easily find someone to ask for directions. Parking is available at both campgrounds, both for day visitors and campers who decide to stay the night, or more.
Hermitage Campground is considered to be somewhat of a hidden gem of Missouri, especially around this popular area. The campground offers 127 sites you can book, and most of them have electric hookups. Two spots are wheelchair accessible, and they are located at the very beginning of the campground. Water, restrooms, and showers are available at the premises, however, it is worth noting that the campers that decide to stay closest to the water will have to walk for a while to reach them. Children can enjoy the playground situated between two camp loops. For extra space, consider reserving one of the family sites, as they are much larger than the regular ones. Pets are allowed to stay here, and you can also light a campfire in the evening
Visitors coming to the Pomme de Terre State Park will be able to choose between two campgrounds: Pittsburg and Hermitage. The Pittsburg campground is a quiet space where campers can park their RVs and enjoy the shade, the cool breeze from the lake, and the proximity of water. Visitors and locals say that this campground is amazing as it is never over-crowded, which allows you to have some peace and quiet, but also extra space you may need while camping. There are 122 available sites, all of which are pet-friendly. The Pittsburg campground consists of four loops, two of which are closed during the off-season. Twenty sites have both electric and water hookups, while the rest only have electric. If you need a bit more room, reserve one of the family sites which are larger than the regular ones.
When the weather becomes colder and you cannot swim in the lake, you can turn to other beauties that this park has under its sleeve. Campers who want to make the most amazing herbarium can gather many beautiful plants and flowers they can press and take home with them, and always have a piece of Pomme de Terre with them, even when they’re not eating potatoes. Visitors who care more about animals will be thrilled to learn that here they can see and photograph deer, prairie warbler, cedar waxwing, turkey, bluebird, squirrel, and purple finch on both sides of the park. If you are into wildlife watching, charge your camera batteries and head out into the woods, but do not approach the animals and try to blend in with the surroundings the best you can.
The best thing you can do for yourself, no matter your age, is to learn new things wherever you go. Pomme de Terre State Park has an interesting story you can learn more about while you are visiting in your campervan or trailer. Back in the time when the settlement of the area began, there was a Pomme de Terre River that divided the Native Americans and the settlers. Later, the US Army Corps created Pomme de Terre Lake which they finished in 1961. This is one of the many examples of human “meddling” in the processes of mother nature. However, the lake did provide a lot of positive things to the area, such as contributing to flooding control by providing a big reservoir.
Tucked away neatly in the depths of the forest, the picnic areas in the Pomme de Terre State Park are perfect for campers who want to gather their friends and family and socialize over delicious food and refreshing drinks. The designated picnic areas are conveniently situated close to the lake, in both areas – Hermitage and Pittsburg, and they offer tables and benches you can use. The park also has an open picnic shelter on the Pittsburg side, which is just perfect for larger groups or family gatherings. You can reserve them through the park office. Not only will you be able to eat under the clear sky and surrounded by fresh air, but you can also enjoy the endless greenery and the gorgeous picturesque scenes that the park offers to its visitors.
Campers who want to explore the park will be able to enjoy two scenic hiking trails available to them. Cedar Bluff Trail is located on the Hermitage side of the park, and it is a trail that leads through a heavily wooded area that provides thick shade from the scorching sun. On the Pittsburg side, hikers can walk along the Indian Point Trail that will lead them through a savanna woodland. Walking ahead, visitors will arrive at a beautiful platform overlooking the lake where they can rest and have a snack before going back. You can also take one of the connector trails if you are looking for a shorter walk, but if you want to see some amazing plants, stay on the main one. Some of the plants you can see are the big bluestem, Indian grass, purple cornflowers, yellow Missouri evening primroses, and rose verbena.
If you are not much of a sailor and you don’t have the upper body strength to steer a canoe or a kayak, you can still enjoy the Pomme de Terre lake! Swimming is allowed during the in-season, so head out to the lake and relax in the water. Two public beaches provide a perfect spot for suntanning, relaxation in the sun, swimming, and playing in the water. Pack a towel, bring your sunscreen and sunglasses, and don’t forget your book, because the lake is waiting and the sun is shining! Of course, pay attention to children if you are bringing them along since the lake is still a body of water they can get lost in.
RV campers who are looking to have some fun on the lake will be happy to hear that boating is one of the top activities at Pomme de Terre State Park. Boat launches are available in both areas, where you can drop your vessel into the water and head out into the lake for some much-needed quiet time. Fishers will enjoy casting their lines for walleye, crappie, bass, catfish, and muskie. Also, they will be thrilled to hear that this lake is one of the only ones in the state of Missouri that offers genuine muskellunge fishing. You can rent the boat if you don’t have your own, but you can also rent fishing equipment and dock spaces, and enjoy fishing at the pier if you don’t want to get into a boat. Of course, kayaking and canoeing are also popular, and you can rent the vessels on the Hermitage side of the park.