December provides some of the best opportunities to get out and hike in Missouri. I got a chance to take advantage of some of this fine weather on Christmas eve. It was a little cool, but if you have the right gear, and dress in layers, winter can be one of the best times of the year to get out and hit the trail.
I hiked a modified version of the South loop trail (the Big Sugar Creek trail cuts right through it, and provides a nice half point). The trails at Cuiver River SP see a lot of equestrian use, so there were parts a of the trail that were a little muddy and chopped up. However, due to the fact that the ground was frozen, I was able to hike right over most of this. I was anticipating seeing some wildlife, on this hike I saw quite a few active woodpeckers and tufted titmouse birds. Other than that, it was fairly calm on the wildlife side. This wildlife area is incredibly peaceful. The hike had some hills to negotiate. I hiked this trail probably about 4 years ago or so, so it was great to get back out and check it out again. You can backpack camp on this trail (which I have done a couple of times). If you are just getting starting in backpack camping, this would be a great starter trail, due to the fact that you are fairly close to civilization and can get back to the trail head quickly.
There are a few pictures in the video of the old house (all that remains is the foundation ,and old lake, and a bunch of debris in the old basement. I am thinking this house got destroyed probably in the 50's (based on the looks of the old refrigerator and toys that were in the debris). It is located where the red blaze meets the blue blaze very close to Big Sugar Creek. You cannot see it from the trail, so if you want to check it out, you need to hike in through some sticker bushes and other botanical riff-raff to find it.
I look forward to coming back and hiking deeper into this forest. I have spent the night in this area with backpacks, and look forward to maybe doing an overnight in the spring.