Sense of Community

Our ongoing, 10-part Community Journalism series airs quarterly

From poverty concerns to major policy decisions, this series dives beyond the headlines to provide in-depth coverage of issues facing people and organizations in the Ozarks. KSMU's team of reporters come together to produce 10 stories, four times a year;  see past espisodes of our Sense of Community series here.

Michele Skalicky

In this segment of KSMU’s Sense of Community Series, we travel to the Buffalo National River to hike the Center Point Road Trail.   KSMU’s Michele Skalicky first discovered this hiking trail in the 1990s on an Ecotour hosted by the Newton County Resource Council.  A storyteller took a group to Big Bluff and told stories along the way about the people who used to live in the area.

Today we visit Valley Water Mill Park, operated on land leased by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board from the owner, City Utilities of Springfield. Most Springfield-area residents have heard of “Valley Water Mill,” or the county road of the same name, also known as Farm Road 102.

But not everyone seems to know that, since 2010, this nearly 100-acre site just northeast of Springfield, once home to a 19th-century grain mill, has been a public park with hiking and strolling paths and a 13-acre lake. 

Bailey Vassali / KSMU

Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park is a 112-acre property located on South Scenic Avenue in Springfield, across the street from Horton Smith Golf Course. 

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

Our Sense of Community series, "Take It Outside," continues at one of the Ozarks' most iconic water mills: Alley Mill, near Eminence in south-central Missouri, has been featured prominently on scenic calendars, travel magazines and Pinterest.

You can't see the mill from the parking lot; it's hidden by trees a few hundred yards away.  But the path is wheelchair accessible all the way to the mill.   And when you come around a corner, the iconic, towering, bright red building is worth stopping to just gaze at.

Missouri Department of Conservation

  To kick off our Sense of Community series, "Take It Outside: 10 Unique Spots to Enjoy the Natural Ozarks," we’re taking you to the hills of thick oak and pine forest in the Peck Ranch Conservation Area, home to Missouri’s wild elk population.