Hiking is such a beloved hobby for both health and outdoor enthusiasts. If you live within Missouri, there is a vast selection of different hiking trails for you to conquer. All of them differ in length, scenery, attractions, and rules. So, let us look at what hiking trails are available in Missouri.
Here are ten hiking trails available in Missouri: Cedar Creek Trial, Ozark Trail, Turkey Pen Hollow and Devils Kitchen, Lewis and Clark Trail, Natural Tunnel Trail, Lost Valley Trail, Rock Bridge State Park, Meramec State Park, Hercules Glade Wilderness, and finally Buford Mountain.
Now, let us look at all these hiking trails individually and help you better understand what to expect if you choose to visit one of these natural attractions. In addition, we will address the length, rules, additional attractions, and contact information – should you have any more questions.
Cedar Creek Trail
This trail, which includes 16 000 acres in central Missouri, is situated just southeast of Columbia. The trail’s full length is measured to be 36 miles which then gets sorted into four main areas: The Southern Loop, The Smith Creek Loop, The Pine Ridge Section, and The Moon Loop.
The Southern Loop stretches over 23 miles of farm-filled countryside with cross-country areas and trails along gravel roads. The Smith Creek Loop travels 5 miles between Boydsville and Rutherford Bridge which provides a beautiful viewpoint of Cedar Creek.
The Pine Ridge Section goes through the recreational area and is open to foot travel and mountain biking. In addition, a trail available for horseback riding situates to the west of Cedar Creek. The Moon Loop, which is 7 miles in length, gained its interesting name from the moon-like appearance of the area that formed due to soil erosion in the 1930s.
In addition, there is another section called The Cedar Creek Unit which provides a diverse showcase of wildlife habitats and a recreational area. The best season to visit these hiking trails is in spring or fall; however, it is available all year round. Some restrictions on these trails are no motorized transportation and no horses on the Pine Ridge Section.
This trail is available for many types of travel, including hiking, backpacking, biking, and horseback riding. The trail is still under construction as it currently sits at over 350 miles, while the estimated finished length will be 500 miles. Most of the paths fall between 8 to 40 miles – the longest being 225 miles.
The trail gets separated into thirteen different sections.
- Courtois Section
- Trace Creek Section
- Middle Fork – John Roth Memorial Section
- Karkaghne Section
- Blair Creek Section
- Current River Section
- Between Rivers Section
- Eleven Point Section
- Victory Section
- Wappapello Section
- Taum Sauk Section
Certain hiking trails even cross over or connect, making it impossible to see all that Ozark has to offer in just one day alone. There are also many sites to see, including natural wonders and animals.
The Ozark Trail is home to the highest point in Missouri, Taun Sauk Mountain, and the state’s highest wet-weather waterfall, Mina Sauk. Some animals you will see include deer, turkeys, bobcats, bears, and bald eagles.
Natural Tunnel Trail
This trail leads to the largest natural tunnel in the entire state of Missouri. By heading to the Missouri Ozarks, you will find a remarkable tunnel deep inside Bennet Springs State Park with a length of 300 ft. To see this incredible natural formation in person, track the Natural Tunnel Trail for an adventurous whole-day hike.
The terrain that the trail covers is well marked and simple for most hikers, measured at a difficulty of moderate. However, there are certain wet areas where taking extra caution is recommended. The full length of this lovely trail is 7.5 miles. After hiking for 3.5 miles of the trail, you will reach the tunnel where the path will divert into an out-and-back trail.
Hikers have also used this tunnel as a small pitstop to take a breather and rest. When approaching the tunnel, you will be able to witness its full beauty and be mesmerized that such a small stream after water was able to erode the rocks to create this natural masterpiece.
The trails are available all year long; however, we suggest avoiding the summer and fall seasons as the bugs in the area love to come out during those periods, requiring you to purchase some bug spray for your trip. In addition, the trail can be tracked from dawn to dusk on any chosen day.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
This charming state park of Missouri host some of the most well-known trails in the entire state. There is a total of eight different trails for you to track. Let us look at all these hiking trails individually and see what each one offers.
Deer Run Trail
This trail follows along the banks of Little Bonne Femme Creek, where the path then merges with the Spring Brook Trail before looping back to the beginning. The surroundings mostly include dense woods and grassy openings, so you have a high chance of seeing some deer while hiking. You may also see beavers and muskrats along the creek.
The trail has a total distance of 3.8 miles while allowing foot and mountain bike travel. The trail has a difficulty rated at moderate with a total hiking time of 2 hours and 50 minutes. Certain things you might experience while on the trail are shifting rocks, slippery surfaces, downed vegetation on the trail, structured crossings, and water crossings without bridges.
Devils Icebox Trail
This trail consists primarily of viewing balconies and numerous structured stairs. Certain natural sites that you will see during this hike are the 63-foot-high natural tunnel called the Devil’s Icebox. However, should you wish to explore the 166-foot-long Connor’s Cave, we recommend bringing along flashlights, helmets, and suitable shoes for the journey.
The length of this trail is 0.5 miles and is only available for foot travel. In addition, the trail has a completion time of 32 minutes and gets classified as a loop. Certain things you might experience include shifting rocks, slippery surfaces, wood or stone steps, downed vegetation on the trail, steep inclines and declines, drop-off next to the trail, and structured crossings.
Gans Creek Wild Area Trail
This 750-acre trail engulfs the hiker into a forest wonderland, making them forget about the bustling city that only sits a few miles away. You will become exposed to a diverse selection of trees, including basswood, walnut, and white oak trees. Unfortunately, this trail is not as well maintained as the others to keep human influence in this area minimal.
The length of this trail is 6.6 miles, which allows foot and horseback travel – only for certain periods. It has an estimated hiking time of 6 hours and 33 minutes. Certain things you’ll experience are shifting rocks, slippery surfaces, low-hanging vegetation, challenging obstacles, steep inclines and declines, structured crossings, potentially water over trails.
Colorful wildflowers and swaying grass fields surround this trail. The terrain gets marked with numerous wooded sinkholes, which have become charming homes for frogs and dragonflies. In addition, two diversions off this trail lead to High Point Lane and Rock Bridge Lane.
The trail is 1.9 miles, with both foot and mountain bike travel permitted. However, mountain biking is only allowed if the trail is dry. Additionally, the estimated hiking time for this trail is 1 hour and 23 minutes. Certain things you will experience include shifting rocks, slippery surfaces, downed vegetation, and structured crossings.
High Ridge Trail
Suiting to the name they gave it, this trail climbs to the highest point in the entire park, providing a remarkable view of the surrounding park and native grasslands. The track also follows along the Clear Creek banks, a small, continuously flowing stream that is highly used to wading and studying aquatic organisms.
The total distance of this trail is 1.7 miles, and both foot and mountain bike travel is permitted. This loop has an estimated hiking time of 1 hour and 16 minutes. Things you might experience on this trail include slippery surfaces, shifting rocks, fallen vegetation, steep inclines, and more than 10% declines.
This trail gained its name from all the karst topography in the area. The word karst describes the terrain of the land, which gets filled with sinkholes, caves, and underground streams. The path has two contrasting sections: woodlands filled with large white oak trees and the other tracking through native grasslands, including a three-acre prairie remnant.
With both foot and mountain bike travel permitted, this trail has a full length of 1.9 miles with an estimated hiking time of 1 hour and 24 minutes. This trail is classified as a loop and gets rated at moderate difficulty. There are not many things to worry about, but some would be shifting rocks, slippery surfaces, and downed vegetation.
Unsurprisingly, you will see sinkholes on this trail. However, by diverting off the Devil’s Icebox parking area, you will embark on the trail that follows an old road that traverses through the historic site of Rockbridge Mills. Further up the trail, you will encounter two concrete silos that stand as a memorial for the land’s agricultural past.
This trail is measured at 1.4 miles, allowing foot and mountain bike travel with an estimated hiking time of 1 hour and 2 minutes. Certain things to prepare for would be slippery surfaces, shifting rocks, fallen vegetation, steep inclines and declines at 10%, drop-off next to the trail, and water or stream crossing without structured crossings.
Spring Brook Trail
Along this beautiful trail, you will become exposed to dense woods, old fields, and small flowing streams. You can gaze upon the maple and sycamore trees that adorn the banks of the Little Bonne Femme Creek, which you will cross two times.
A 100-foot structured bridge at the eastern crossing enables a dry crossing. However, the western crossing does not have a bridge and will most likely require little wading, yet this area is not safe to cross during high water.
This trail is 3.0 miles with both foot and mountain bike travel permitted and an estimated hiking time of 2 hours and 14 minutes. Certain things you will experience are slippery surfaces, shifting rocks, down vegetation, structured crossings, water crossings with no bridges, road crossings, and steep inclines and declines.
Hercules Glades Wilderness
Hercules Glades Wilderness is 12 413 acres with the most diverse landscape in the entire state. Some of the views you would see consist of open grasslands, forested knobs, steep rocky hillsides, and narrow drainages. Like the landscape, there is a large spectrum of animals to see, including white-tailed deer, squirrels, turkey, quail, lizards, and snakes.
In addition, some things to be notified of for safety reasons. There is no water available at parking areas or along the trail, so we recommend bringing your own. During the more scorching months, be aware of biting insects, poison ivy, and high humidity percentages. When planning to visit the trail, avoid hunting seasons and extremely wet periods.
The trail stretches for 32 miles through all the terrain types that we mentioned before. Some attractions that you will noticeably encounter along the hike are the Long Creek Falls, remarkable views of the Ozarks countryside, and many natural wonders. The best seasons to visit this beautiful trail are fall, winter, or spring.
Listed below are some of the restrictions of the hiking trail.
- Avoid polluting the natural streams, lakes, or other water sources
- No cutting or defacing any vegetation
- Possessing or using motorized transport (includes mountain bikes and wagons)
- No aircraft in the entire area
- No building of structures such as tables, firepits, etc.
- Discharging a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied area
- Shooting any tracer bullet or incendiary ammunition
All these trails showcase their charming beauty while providing a remarkable outdoor experience for any person of any age. These trails vary in difficulty and obstacles, so which one you choose to conquer depends on the confidence of your physical abilities.