Missouri is a state that defies the idea that the Midwest is nothing but flatland. The northeastern section of the state is Mississippi river valley that was carved from bedrock to create a hilly terrain, while the southwest side of the state is full of prairies that bison call home. The varied terrain of the state offers up plenty of hiking adventures for visitors of all fitness levels. Take a short walk at Trail of Tears State Park, or go on a 35-mile hike on the Ozark Trail of Missouri. Here are three of some of the best hikes in Missouri to suit your needs.
The Ozark Trail starts at St. Louis and winds up at the state border of Missouri and Arkansas for a distance of 390 miles. But you don’t have to walk the entire trail if you don’t want to. Instead, you can access the trail at many different points along the way, so you can walk through the mountains and enter into valleys that are filled with beautiful water features, hardwood forests, and savannas that are loaded with plant life. If you’re coming in for short hikes, stay at a hotel in the area for a place to relax and recover after a day seeing the sights by foot.
Cedar Creek Trail
The Cedar Creek Trail consists of a 36-mile loop that winds its way around the Mark Twain National Forest. It’s another trail that has multiple entry points, so you can pick the distance and terrain you want to see. The most popular route is the 5-mile Smith Creek Loop, which is known as the most scenic trail in the park. Hikers walk along the bluffs and experience scenic views of the surrounding terrain, which includes an aerial view of Cedar Creek.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
Rock Bridge actually has a rock bridge for hikers to view while walking along the 15 miles of trails. The 2,273 acre park is open to hikers year-round. The most prominent feature of the park is its topography known as karst. This type of terrain is rocky and full of sinkholes and caves. The rock bridge is the most famous feature and was formed when part of its cave roof collapsed, separating itself from the rest of the cave system.
Hikers can walk over the rock bridge via the Devil’s Icebox Boardwalk, which leads to the large sinkhole at Devil’s Icebox, past Connor’s spring, and returns through a 125-foot long tunnel. The Devil’s Icebox gives a lovely view of the stream underneath. The sinkhole acts as a natural chimney and cool air is forced upwards from the stream. It’s a perfect place to stop and cool off.
Missouri is a great place for hikers to explore. It has amazing topography, plenty of trails for hikers regardless of their physical condition, and lots of restored habitats so visitors can see what the land was like before it was settled and put to the plow.