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Missouri Backpacking Trails

St. Louis: Dark Hollow

This remote valley in Mark Twain National Forest is often overlooked, but it’s a great escape for hikers willing to bushwhack along and through its streams to huge granite walls.

St. Louis, MO: Taum Sauk Mountain

This rugged 11.2-mile out-and-back on the Ozark Trail winds through the volcanic uplift of the St. Francois range to Missouri’s highest peak and tallest waterfall.

St. Louis: Wilderness Trail

This 9-mile lollipop loop is an adventurer’s delight: scenic bluffs, spring-fed streams, quiet campsites, and–for those who dare–an elusive limestone cavern.

Springfield: Big Piney Trail

On this 16.6-mile overnight in the Paddy Creek Wilderness, see tranquil emerald-green creeks and timeless vistas of the rock-strewn Ozark Highlands.

St. Louis: Lewis and Clark Trail

This 8.5-mile loop climbs to rugged bluffs and views of the Missouri River and its bluffs, then rolls through cool hollows in Weldon Spring Conservation Area.

St. Louis: Millstream Gardens Conservation Area

This 6-mile out-and-back offers commanding views from bluffs overlooking the St. Francis River and passes remnants of an old mining operation.

St. Louis: Ozark Trail-Marble Creek

This 8.8-miler takes you deep into Ozark backcountry, where deer and turkey outnumber hikers.

St. Louis: Siloam Springs State Park

This 7.3-mile ramble along a serene stream, by old settler ruins, and thorough big woods illustrates why this pocket park is considered one of the most beautiful in Illinois.

St. Louis: Frenchmans Bluff Loop

This easy 5-mile adventure takes you above rugged, staircase-like bluffs, then down into the hushed hollows of Cuivre River State Park.

St. Louis: Chubb Trail

This 7-miler is popular with mountain bikers and dayhikers, crossing limestone hills and following the Meramec River to a parkland with bison and elk.

St. Louis: Fern Hollow Goat Cliff Loop

On this 6.8-mile loop, you’ll find reclaimed prairies, sacred Indian grounds, and scenic overlooks of the lakes and rivers surrounding St. Louis.

St. Louis: Grant’s Trail

Introduce the kids to mass transit, then hike to President Grant’s Farm (zebras, horses) on this gentle 6.4-miler.

St. Louis: Panther Den Loop

Explore ridges, evergreen forests, and odd rock formations on this 4.3-mile dayhike through the smallest wilderness in Shawnee National Forest.

St. Louis, MO: Shoreline Trail

This 3.4-mile out-and-back in the heart of Missouri’s Little Dixie region travels the wavy, wooded banks of a 205-acre lake.

Springfield: Henning Forest Loop

Wander under oak and hickory trees, up steep hills, and along a wild Ozark creek on this 5.9-mile lassoloop in Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area.

St. Louis, MO: Council Bluff Loop

Cruise along the shores of a shaded Ozark lake on this 12.4-mile dayhike in Mark Twain National Forest.

St. Louis, MO: McCully Wetland Trail

Scope for wildlife on bluffs high above the Illinois River on this easy 3-mile loop hike.

St. Louis, MO: Bell Smith Springs Loop

Whet your feet–and your appetite for nature–on this moderate 3.6-mile loop in Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest with two creek fords, year-round wildflowers and soaring fern-covered cliffs.

Ozark Wilderness: Eleven Point River Shuttle Hike

Traverse deep hollows and springs along a 24-mile shuttle hike on the Ozark Trail.

St. Louis, MO: Kinkaid Lake

Traversing trickling falls, spongy boulders, and finger coves along Kinkaid Lake’s western shore, this 9.2-mile out-and-back ends high above the lake—and leaves you dry.

St. Louis, MO: Sam Dale Conservation Area

An easy, family-friendly dayhike, this 2.8-mile loop tours the mature forests and wildlife-festooned shores of the Sam Dale Lake Conservation Area.

St. Louis, MO: Little Grand Canyon

This Shawnee National Forest hike loops 2.8 miles and drops 350 feet through a water-carved slot into Illinois’ Little Grand Canyon. Sure footing and a sense of adventure required.

St. Louis, MO: Giant City State Park

This 9.8-mile loop covers the Shawnee National Forest essentials: lovely waterfalls, scenic sandstone cliffs, singing birds, and colorful wildflowers.

St. Louis, MO: Pere Marquette

An exposed fault above the Illinois River and 30-mile views of St. Louis make this 3.5-mile loop in Illinois’ largest state park a worthwhile escape from the Gateway City.

Springfield, MO: Paddy Creek Wilderness

Camp by a secluded spring in the rugged Missouri Ozarks.

St. Louis, MO: Walkers Island

Birders take note: The shallow depths of Horseshoe Lake and the grain-rich fields of Walkers Island attract an unusually wide range of feathered fliers to this 3.8-mile loop just outside St. Louis.

Springfield, IL: Beaver Dam Lake

Explore a 59-acre lake and get a bird’s-eye view of a buzzing wetland on this 2.9-mile hike through an historic state park in central Illinois.

St. Louis, MO: Emmenegger Nature Park

Escape the hustle of city life on this quiet, 1.4-mile loop in Emmenegger Nature Park that climbs a riverside bluff overlooking the Meramec River.

St. Louis, MO: Cliff Cave Spring Valley Trail

Loop around sinkholes on this easy, 2.6-mile lollipop loop that skirts a historic cave and a frog-filled pond in St. Louis’ Cliff Cave Park.

St. Louis, MO: Pickle Springs

Hoodoos in Missouri? This 2-mile loop dips into a river valley jam-packed with sandstone formations and trickling cascades—-including the rocky, 50-foot face of Headwall Falls.

Springfield, MO: Big Piney Trail

On this 16.5-mile overnight in the Paddy Creek Wilderness, you’ll see tranquil emerald-green creeks and timeless vistas of the rock-strewn Ozark Highlands.

Kansas City, MO: Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area

Hike to Jesse James’ old stomping grounds on this 4.1-mile loop that strings together three short trails just 30 minutes from downtown.

Hawn State Park, MO: Whispering Pines Loop

Wander through one of Missouri’s most revered state parks on this 6.5-mile loop featuring sprawling treetop panoramas and an extended foray along the idyllic Pickle Creek.

Kansas City, MO: Thousand Hills Trail

This 10.8 mile overnight shuttle hike features a prairie-covered ridge, miles of picturesque lakeshore, and a rarely-used backcountry campsite tucked away in a fern-studded hollow.

Missouri St. Louis

St. Louis: Dark Hollow

This remote valley in Mark Twain National Forest is often overlooked, but it’s a great escape for hikers willing to bushwhack along and through its streams to huge granite walls.

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Ozark Trail trailhead
Missouri St. Louis

St. Louis, MO: Taum Sauk Mountain

This rugged 11.2-mile out-and-back on the Ozark Trail winds through the volcanic uplift of the St. Francois range to Missouri’s highest peak and tallest waterfall.

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Winter in Meremac
Missouri St. Louis

St. Louis: Wilderness Trail

This 9-mile lollipop loop is an adventurer’s delight: scenic bluffs, spring-fed streams, quiet campsites, and–for those who dare–an elusive limestone cavern.

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Small waterfall
Missouri

Springfield: Big Piney Trail

On this 16.6-mile overnight in the Paddy Creek Wilderness, see tranquil emerald-green creeks and timeless vistas of the rock-strewn Ozark Highlands.

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Missouri Overlook
Missouri St. Louis

St. Louis: Lewis and Clark Trail

This 8.5-mile loop climbs to rugged bluffs and views of the Missouri River and its bluffs, then rolls through cool hollows in Weldon Spring Conservation Area.

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Missouri

St. Louis: Chubb Trail

This 7-miler is popular with mountain bikers and dayhikers, crossing limestone hills and following the Meramec River to a parkland with bison and elk.

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