Dog walk on Huckleberry Ridge Trail, near Pineville MO.
On June 20th, 2022, Pixie and I set off to Huckleberry Ridge, a little-known hiking and horse trail that's only a 30-minute drive away from CoolWag. This less-traveled trail was easy to find on GPS, but don't expect an abundance of signage and markers. We drove in as far as we could, passed a couple of tent campers, and parked.
Pixie and I started down the trail and descended to a cool dry creek bed. Then the trail disappeared. My instinct was to walk the creek but thankfully I switched back, got on the AllTrails GPS, and found the trail again.
The forest was beautiful. Big mature trees, singing birds, and lots of wild raspberry bushes. Unfortunately, they are not ripe yet for eating. Too early in the season. The trail opened up and became clear as we passed a few primitive campsites. I looked for wildlife but didn't see a thing, not even a squirrel.
I've been practicing off-leash walking with Pixie for a while. She is a rescue and found me a couple of years ago. She loves to please and treats every human as her next best friend.
However, she is still cautious in certain situations. For example, she will never perform a laydown command; some of her rescue fear doesn’t seem to go away. She is also a bit curious and has bolted off a couple times in the past. And she can have a small stubborn side. This was the perfect remote place for off-leash training with lots of nature distractions.
I practiced one set of name recall with eye contact and one sit command, then she was free. She stayed right next to me. Occasionally, she would stop and investigate a smell. I used my duck call or a couple of hand claps, and she ran to catch up to me.
We came up to a mowed clearing with a couple of cars and a tent. As a precaution, I put her back on the leash. The trailhead was hidden, so I went back to GPS. They could have mowed another 20 yards and made it abundantly clear the direction of the trail. Or maybe they wanted the trail to be less traveled.
The trail narrowed and was a little overgrown, but Pixie followed right behind me. At times, the trail disappeared and I had to look around for it. There were clues; the leaves were messed by horses. Occasionally, Pixie would take the lead and look back at me as if to say, "Where do we go now?"
We descend again to the dry creek bed. This time we explored and found a little spring and tall rock walls in the embankment. We climbed up the ledges which had some interesting erosion, perfect cover for bird nests. Of course, we were not the first ones there. Near the end of this semi-open cavern was a Geocache.
Pixie found the trail and we proceeded onward. She then missed a turn and we got off the trail. So yet again I had to pull out the GPS again. Instead of going back, I decided to go across this densely wooded ravine and back up to the trail. Since there was no trail, I had to call for Pixie a couple of times. Us trying to find our way led to a 15-minute detour.
Once we were back on the trail, Pixie's head perked up. She saw or heard something and started to charge at it. I assertively recalled her name and she immediately stopped and came back to me. In doing so, she passed a big test.
We then popped out at another mowed campsite, found my car, and headed home. We timed in a little shy of 2 hours for a 2.34-mile hike and exploration.