Wear orange: A forest actively managed for wildlife and hunting.

Young Consevation Area is located southwest of Eureka, Go west on I-44 to the Eureka, MO 109 exit. Go south on 109, which ends at a T intersection. Go right on FF. The Young Consevation Area parking area is on the left after three or four miles. The road is paved to the parking lot, which is gravel. No restrooms.

See the Missouri Department of Conservation's website for more information and better directions. Google has the area correctly located:

LaBarque Creek Conservation Area is just a few miles down the road, and you might consider combining both areas in one trip. Lunch can be found in Eureka and in Pacific, both north along I-44.

Young Conservation area is big (over 1,000 acres) and varied, and it shows every sign of a complex history of use. Presently it appears to be actively managed for hunting and fishing. Its trail system is used by ATV's, and signs of hunting (people walking around with firearms, treestands still up at the end of deer season, spent shotgun shells) are obvious. On they day I was there, I saw five people with firearms, and heard more shots than I could count. And the trail passes through a couple of areas--perhaps as much several hundred acres in all--where the Department of Conservation has been thinning the forest by cutting down trees, creating a brushy openings on the forest which in time should provide cover for wildlife. Although there are some tremendously gorgeous spots in Young Conservation Area, expect to see a forested that's actively and aggressively managed.

There are roughly 3 1/2 miles of trail, all of which is on old, two track forest roads. The trail consists of a long out-and-back segment, which connects to a loop which in turn circles through the back of the area. There's also a trail called the Tatonic, which is closed due to Ameren's construction of a large power line across part of the trail. If you decide to sneak up the Tatonic Trail anyway, be prepared to retrace your steps, since the trail disappears into the mud of the powerline clearcut.

I would revist Young Conservation Area simply because it's so big. Once you're in the back of the area, you're beyond the sound of road noise, and it feels like you're even farther from civilization than you really area. And eventually the work of the Department of Conservation should pay off in a better chance of seeing wildlife.

I wouldn't visit during turkey season. Otherwise, almost anytime is probably okay. It might be a reasonable place to visit during summer, since the broad two-track trail might make for fewer chiggers.