Hike and Bike in the Show-Me State

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Meander Through Missouri’s Beauty
Author: H&L Partners
The title “Best Trails State” was bestowed upon Missouri by American Trails, a national, not-for-profit organization working on behalf of the nation’s hiking, biking and riding trails. The award, announced in April 2013, is presented every two years to the state that has made tremendous contributions to promoting and improving its trails. With 1,000s of miles of trails, your opportunities for hiking and biking adventures are endless. When was the last time you walked the wooded trails, past a natural spring, or shifted the gears on your 10-speed bike and surveyed the mighty Missouri River? Put on your gear and prepare to explore Missouri’s picturesque serenity. 

Follow rocky bluffs along Pomme de Terre Lake on the 1.5-mile Cedar Bluff Trail at Pomme de Terre State Park, 10 minutes north of Pittsburg, Missouri. As you walk beneath 200-year-old oak trees that once edged the Great Plains, keep your binoculars in-hand to catch sight of birds ranging from song birds to waterfowl to hawks and game birds. Amble along the Indian Point Trail to the scenic overlook of the lake. On this 2.75-mile trail, discover several species of wildflowers, such as Missouri evening promise and purple coneflowers. Rest your feet in the cool lake waters; have a quiet picnic and nap on the beach. 

The oak-pine woodlands of Big Sugar Creek State Park are equally spectacular. This 2,082-acre park, 20 minutes outside of Pineville, offers a variety of flora and fauna. Meander the 3.25-mile Ozark Chinquapin Trail and discover unusually sharp and pointy plants. Low prickly pear cacti and chinquapin trees grow along the trail that traverses shady woodlands, along grassy glades and beside rock ledges. Turn your hike into a game and try identifying the park’s 345 different kinds of plants and 134 species of birds.  

Across southeast Missouri, the challenging Ozark Trail is composed of thirteen sections, varying in length from eight to 40 miles, with a total distance of more than 390 miles. Most segments connect to others, so the longest continuous stretch available for hiking and mountain biking is about 225 miles. Horseback excursions are allowed on most sections. Take a lazy day-hike or, for the more adventurous backpackers, trek the wilderness for a week. Whichever your route, you’ll enjoy the diverse and awe-inspiring scenes of the Missouri Ozarks. Parts of the Ozark Trail overlook Missouri’s highest peak at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and wind down valleys, through wilderness areas and past caves, shut-ins, waterfalls and cold springs. After witnessing the beauty of the Ozarks at its finest, share your photos on our VisitMO Facebook page and our PictureMO Flicker page. 

Are you thinking out of the Ozarks? The natural features of Cuivre River State Park can make even the most experienced hiker think this Ozark-like area is in southern Missouri. In fact, Cuivre River State Park is in Troy, 59 miles north of St. Louis. As you journey along the area’s twelve hiking, biking and equestrian trails, you can explore the 6,393-acre park. Peek between the trees and off of the bluffs at the two streams – the Big Sugar Creek and the Cuivre River – that lace the park. Hikers who are lucky enough might spot various salamanders, white-tailed deer and wild turkey on their journey – perhaps even a bald eagle.

Ride your bicycle along a stretches of the 260-mile Highway 36 Bicycle Route and discover history. Route 36, a four-lane highway across northern Missouri, is known as “The Way of American Genius.” It is devided into a northwest section and a northeast section. Visit the homes of Missouri legends such as: Jesse James; General of the Armies John J. "Black Jack" Pershing; Walt Disney; Mark Twain; and other notable sites. The bicycle pathways are friendly for riders of all levels, with no particularly steep climbs.

Travelers familiar with the Katy Trail come back for its unparalleled scenery along the Missouri River and its ease of walking and biking. The well maintained, crushed limestone path provides a unique rural Missouri experience. The 237.7-mile trail has endpoints in Machens and Clinton, with 26 established trailheads along its length. Discover beautiful panoramas of sandstone and limestone bluffs, dense forest, wetlands and rolling prairies beside the trail. Small towns pop up along the way, with antique shops, historic districts, craft shops, wineries, restaurants and bed and breakfast inns. Horseback riding is allowed on the section between Calhoun and Sedalia and on the stretch between Tebbetts and Portland. From the trailhead in north Jefferson City, a side-spur takes you across the Missouri River Bridge, to the capital city and all of its historic attractions.


 Pomme de Terre State Park
Located along the 7,800-acre Pomme de Terre Lake, this park offers lots of solitude and sunshine. The ...

 Big Sugar Creek State Park
Outstanding oak and oak-pine woodlands are features of this 2,082-acre park in the rugged Elk Hills ...

 The Ozark Trail
The Ozarks, in a word, are splendid. The Ozark Trail system contains more than 390 miles of trails, ...

 Taum Sauk Mountain State Park
At an elevation of 1,772 feet, this is the highest point in Missouri. The state's highest wet-weather ...

 Cuivre River State Park
More than 38 miles of hiking, backpacking and equestrian trails wind through this 6,393-acre park. Camping, ...

 Highway 36 Bicycle Route
This established bicycle route connects a number of historic sites, points of interest, recreational ...

 Missouri Highway 36 - The Way of American Genius (Northeast)
Discover some of America's great ideas, inventions and innovators along Missouri Highway 36. A trip ...

 Missouri Highway 36 - The Way of American Genius (Northwest)
Discover some of America's great ideas, inventions and innovators along Missouri Highway 36. A trip ...

 Katy Trail State Park - Statewide
Katy Trail State Park is the longest rails-to-trails conversion in the U.S. The flat, 237.7-mile trail ...