Graham Cave State Park Loutre River & Indian Glade Trails

#12 On Trail Map

NEAREST TOWN: Danville (Montgomery County).

DIRECTIONS: Take the Danville Exit (Exit 170) north off 1-70, then take Hwy TT and follow the signs.

TRAIL DESCRIPTION: The park, which borders the Loutre River, has two multi-use trails, being shared by hikers and mountain bikers. The Loutre River Trail is a two-mile loop. The Indian Glade Trail (west of the entrance road) is a one-mile bike ride (one way).

HIGHLIGHTS: Special features include glades, savannas and sandstone bluffs with overhangs and wet-season waterfalls and creeks.

HAZARDS: There are several rocky trail sections.

AREA INFORMATION: Graham Cave, a site of very early human occupation, is the principal feature of the 357-acre state park. During the 1950s, archaeological finds from the sheltered cave proved that Missouri was inhabited by Native Americans thousands of years earlier than previously believed. Evidence of Indian habitation extended six feet into the floor of the cave and were radiocarbon dated to be at least 10,000 years old.

Archaeologists from the University of Missouri have uncovered artifacts that provide clues to the lifestyle of the ancient Dalton and Archaic period Indians who first inhabited the cave. These early Indians lived in Graham Cave before the development of burial mounds, pottery or even agriculture. They depended mainly on hunting and fishing for food. These people were spear throwers, not bow and arrow hunters. They occupied the cave seasonally and apparently believed in the supernatural.

Pieces of pottery found in the cave indicated that it was occupied by a more recent culture of Indians. Archaeologists believe that a long time lapse separated abandonment of the cave by the Dalton and Archaic period peoples and its use by pottery makers.

Graham Cave is named after the first settler who owned the cave property in 1816. Dr. Robert Graham bought the site from the son of Daniel Boone. Between 1829 and 1850, the last human inhabitant of the cave, a French-Indian, built a log cabin in the cave’s entrance before moving elsewhere. Later, farm animals were sheltered in the “natural barn.”

Today the cave is fenced off since the 1 00-foot-long expanse has not yet been fully excavated but inside the entrance to the cave, interpretive signs point out interesting discoveries. The trail to the cave is paved, making this stop particularly accessible.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: There is camping at this park or if you don’t want to hear the highway all night, head down Hwy 19 to Hermann to visit the wineries (to ensure a good night’s rest) then camp at the Hermann City Park, (573) 486-5308 or 486-5400. It is located at the junction of Hwys 19 & 100 and Gasconade Street.

CONTACT INFO: Graham Cave State Park, Montgomery City, MCI 63361. (573) 564-3476 or call 1 (800)334-6946.

DISTANCE: 3 miles.

TERRAIN: Hilly.

RIDING TIME: An hour. Leave time to explore the cave and the nearby creek beds.

LAND STATUS: Department of Natural Resources.

SERVICES & ACTIVITIES: There are 38 basic campsites and 15 improved campsites scattered through the woods. Campsites are available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. The camping area has a modern restroom and hot showers. There are also picnic sites, a shelter and a playground. There’s also a boat ramp on the Loutre River.

TRAILHEAD: Follow the trail signs.

RATING: Easy to moderate.

Trail description provided by Show Mountain Biking, The Complete Mountain Biker’s Guide to Missouri and Pebble Publishing.