“Take a hike!” When we say that, we mean it in the nicest way possible. After all, Missouri’s gorgeous trails provide hikers the perfect opportunity to explore our state. No matter your skill level or time frame, you’ll find that just-right hike in the Show-Me State.
In Ballwin, Castlewood State Park rewards hikers with a stunning view of the Meramec River. Choose from several trails, ranging from leisurely to challenging. Also, Castlewood enjoys a strong following among mountain bikers, who love to take on the steep terrain. Don’t forget the camera: The lush meadows teem with wildlife, and many birds soar overhead. The river’s abundant fish population makes Castlewood a great place for anglers, too.
Check out an astonishing natural phenomenon when you visit Grand Gulf State Park, near Thayer. Frequently called the “Little Grand Canyon,” this gulf winds more than a mile, between walls soaring 130 feet high. A collapsed cave system created the Grand Gulf more than 10,000 years ago. View this wonder of the Ozarks from the boardwalks and hiking trails, and gaze up at the gulf from its floor. To learn more about how the gulf formed, take a walk along the interpretive trails.
For a leisurely stroll beyond busy downtown Kansas City, head to Weston Bend State Park. This lovely oasis, situated in the town of Weston, provides a terrific natural getaway. Enjoy stunning views of the Missouri River as you hike the three-mile loop trail. Pack a lunch to savor at one of the park’s several picnic sites. The on-site campground allows visitors to make a night – or a weekend – of it.
The Waynesville Walking Trail is a one-mile path perfect for all members of the family. The scenic walkway runs along the Roubidoux River, stretching from Waynesville Park to Laughlin Park. Playground equipment, an underwater cave, and great river accessibility make this an ideal family destination.
For a hike with plenty of history, visit Van Meter State Park, in Miami, Missouri. The Missouria Indians dwelled there; remnants of their village remain. Explore the hand-dug earthwork, called Old Fort, as well as several ancient burial mounds. Exhibits within the park’s Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center tell the story of tribes throughout the state. Van Meter State Park features plenty of hiking trails, plus an 18-acre fishing lake. Traverse the boardwalk through the Oumessourit Natural Area, and see a freshwater marsh, upland forests, and leafy ferns.
Go “off the grid” in Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry, located northeast of Eminence. The beautiful, remote Ozark Mountains location grants hikers access to the largest undeveloped area in Missouri. Explore 30 miles of trail, 15 of which run along the serene Current River. Old-growth trees provide a stunning backdrop for your hike. This area can be difficult to locate, but for hikers and outdoorsmen, it is well worth the hunt.