Water Trails in Missouri

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Missouri’s beautiful lakes and rivers make a stunning backdrop for hiking trails. But why just hike along the banks when you can get into the water and float along a water trail? Throughout the state you’ll find dedicated water trails that allow you to explore state parks and waterways from a new perspective.

So what are you waiting for? Get in the water and follow the trail.

Finger Lakes State Park – Columbia

Once used as a strip mine by Peabody Mining Co., Finger Lakes State Park is now a serene haven for outdoor recreation. The pits left by coal mining have since filled with water to create Peabody Lake. The lake has 4.3 miles of water trails – divided into two sections with a connector – that are marked by red, white and blue buoys.  

James River – Springfield 

Rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard at Springfield Lake Boathouse and set out on the 6-mile James River Water Trail. The James River is great for fishing, so don’t forget to bring a pole and some bait to see what you can catch. The water trail connects to the James River Greenway & Trail of Honor – a popular hiking and biking path.

St. Joe State Park – Park Hills

Tucked along the St. Francois Mountains, St. Joe State Park is a veritable playground for lovers of the outdoors. Monsanto Lake has a water trail with stops that educate visitors about the park’s cultural and natural elements, including a dolomite glade, native grasses, shortleaf pines and the Old Lead Belt.

Hiking trails, off-road vehicle trails and mountain biking trails wind through the park.

Stockton State Park – Dadeville

Best known for its ideal sailing conditions, Stockton Lake also has a canoeing and kayaking trail that runs along the shoreline of the lake. Bald eagles and beavers can be seen on the land while largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass; crappie, walleye, catfish and bluegill populate the water. Quiet coves and an island can also be found along the trail.

Wakonda State Park – La Grange

Three of the six beautiful lakes at Wakonda State Park have water trails ranging from 2 miles to more than 4 miles long. From the trails you’ll see a wide variety of wildlife and a rare sand prairie. Single kayaks, tandem kayaks and jon boats are available for rent at the park office from April 15 to October 31.