COLUMBIA — Walt's Bicycle Fitness and Wilderness Co. welcomed Steve Henry, author of "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of St. Louis," on Thursday evening as Bike, Walk & Wheel Week events continued.
Bike, Walk & Wheel Week is a program sponsored by GetAbout Columbia and is designed to encourage Columbians to utilize more mobile forms of transportation to improve the environment and physical health.
Hiking tips from Steve Henry
"Something for everyone" trails
* Meramec State Park: Wide variety in the length of trails, with tent camping or cabins available
Mountain biking trail
* Berryman Trail
Henry's favorite trail in the St. Louis area
* Lewis and Clark Trail: Has beautiful views of the Missouri River
Natural swimming pool
* Rocky Falls, Eminence
* Washington State Park
* Mingo National Wildlife Refuge Boardwalk Nature Trail
* Pickle Springs Natural Area
* Lost Valley Trail
Easy, short hikes
* Graham Cave State Park
* Little Creek Nature Area
* Don't wait for perfect weather. Streams can be up during rain, ice formations can be seen in the cold, etc. Inclement weather can make for more interesting hikes.
*Be careful about hiking in the summer in Missouri. The heat, humidity and bugs and make hikes less enjoyable. Summer may be a time to consider hiking at night.
Recent improvements in hiking gear
* Lighter weight hiking boots: Although Henry prefers the more traditional, heavy boots, he knows many people who have had good luck with newer, lighter models.
* Hiking sticks: They were not used for awhile but are slowly making a comeback.
* Portable hydration systems: More accessible and space efficient than a water bottle.
The book is part of a series that provides information to hikers about trails that surround metropolitan areas. A native of Kansas, Henry has biked across the continent twice, led bicycling and backpacking tours and written two other books, "Mountain Bike! The Ozarks" and "The Best in Tent Camping: Missouri and the Ozarks."
When asked for camp stories, Henry had an anecdote about a skunk come to his mind. Years ago on one of his camping trips, Henry decided he was going to sleep outside rather than in a tent. He awoke around 2 a.m. when a skunk began gnawing on some dog food that had been left on the ground, which led to a scuffle between the dog and the skunk. Henry could only put his sleeping bag over his head.
"I was more afraid of that skunk than any bear I've ever seen. Luckily, the dog bore the brunt of it," Henry said.