The Women In Nature program is expanding to include backpacking events. At these classes, women can join other like-minded women who want to experience the hobby of backpacking in a safe and judgment-free environment.

These programs are intended to empower participants to be able to set off on their own adventures with peace of mind and confidence after attending the class and overnight experience. Women of all experience levels are welcome. Participants must be 10 years of age or older.

The classes will be held at Weston Bend State Park near Weston, and Thousand Hills State Park outside of Kirksville. The class schedule follows and the May 13 class is required to participate in the overnight class on June 3-4.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at Weston Bend State Park: Participants will learn what backpacking is, how to prepare for a trip and how to plan your trip in a Missouri state park. They will also learn about trail etiquette, fire safety, camp cooking, meal planning, waste disposal, leave no trace philosophy, gear, clothing, water safety, wildlife, map basics and more.

3 p.m. Friday, June 2, at Thousand Hills State Park (optional): This is an optional night. There will be programs on fire-building, fire safety and campfire cooking. Early the next morning, a guided bird walk will be offered. Following breakfast, participants will break down camp, pack up and start out for the trail to meet everyone.

10 a.m. Saturday, June 3 through Sunday, June 4, at Thousand Hills State Park. After meeting, everyone will make the 4-mile hike to the campsite. The trail is an uneven surface with rocks, roots and hills along the way. Don’t worry, a guided yoga session will keep everyone limber and help stave off trail soreness. While on the trail, flora, fauna and the history of the park will be discussed. In the evening, there will be a bear-bagging demonstration and a knot-tying program. Early June 4, a bird walk will be offered. Following breakfast and camp breakdown, participants will hike back, returning to their vehicles around noon.

Please note: On June 2, there will not be water or electricity, but will be portable toilets. Campers will be able to go to the campground and use the showerhouse for showers. The backcountry site is considered primitive, meaning there are no restrooms, running water or electricity. There is a fire ring and picnic table.

There is a $25 per person registration fee and preregistration is required. All slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Details and registration information can be found online at WIN: Women in Nature – Backpacking | Missouri State Parks (

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.