A Trail for Generations

The Forest Lake Area Trail System (FLATS), an all-volunteer community organization, was formed in April 2009 to support the development, use, and maintenance of trails in Adair County.

Our goal is to construct a 4-mile, paved multi-use trail system connecting Thousand Hills State Park and the City of Kirksville, Missouri.

Phase 1, a 0.62 mile eight-foot wide concrete path that provides safe, non-motorized access to the most highly used areas of the park, opened in Fall 2015. FLATS and Missouri State Parks partnered to design, fund, and construct Phase 1.

Phase 2, a .7 mile eight-foot wide concrete path opened in 2022. With Phase 1 it completes the approximately 1.3 miles of paved trail connecting the marina, dining lodge, cabins, swim beach, petroglyph site, and park office to the two park campsites.

Phase 3.1, an ADA-compliant hard surface trail that travels west from the corner of North Osteopathy and West Missouri Streets for 0.7 miles through the woods along Big Creek was completed in spring 2021.

In partnership with the Kirksville Rotary FLATS is finishing construction of a nature playscape on the FLATS-Theta Psi Trailhead on the southwest corner of Osteopathy and Missouri. The playscape will open once FLATS secures funding for a parking lot at the trailhead.

FLATS is working with the City of Kirksville to develop the downtown connection along the north side of West Washington Street.

Phase 1 and 3.1 have been funded in part through the Recreational Trails Program, bringing federal funds dedicated exclusively to trail construction to Adair County businesses. Phase 2 was funded through a generous donation from Caroline Bagley Harding, an anonymous donation from the Missouri State Parks Foundation, and a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.

Why Build This Trail?

Kirksville’s proximity to Thousand Hills State Park is an untapped resource. The Forest Lake Area Trail System will provide northeast Missouri residents and businesses with an economic boost and contribute to our overall quality of life.

Users of the Forest Lake Area Trail System will be able to walk, hike, camp, boat, bike, swim, fish, picnic and simply enjoy the outdoors. This trail will be a resource for visitors and residents for generations to come.

Trails promote health and wellness, reduce health care costs, raise property values, and improve quality of life, making communities more attractive for businesses and enjoyable for residents.

Please see our FAQ for more information about the benefits of this trail.


The Forest Lake Area Trail System (FLATS) was formed by a group of citizens who volunteer their time and/or money to make this project a reality. FLATS became an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization and elected its first Board of Directors in 2016.

We are working closely with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Thousand Hills State Park, the City of Kirksville, Adair County, Kirksville Rotary, Benton and Associates, Alta Planning and Design, the National Park Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Kirksville community to develop this trail so that it meets the needs of all residents.

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