Hike the Heart of Missouri

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Published on: May. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

the fragile soil and vegetation of the area, and allows a hiker to walk directly beneath the massive stone arch without even dipping his or her toes in the creek that runs through it. Further on is a bird's eye view of Devil's Ice Box, a dramatic sinkhole. From here, Devil's Icebox Cave stretches underground for more than three miles. Be warned that there are many stairs on this trail.

Sinkhole Trail winds south from the southern parking lot and measures 1.5 miles. As its name suggests, the trail allows close-up viewing of several sinkholes, though none are particularly noteworthy.

Spring Brook Trail stretches 2.5 miles between the two parking lots and passes through both upland and bottomland habitat, crossing Little Bonne Femme Creek twice.

The 2-mile Grassland Trail traverses smooth terrain that is being converted to native grasses. This trail can be reached at the south end of the Sinkhole Trail or from the southern edge of the park on Route N.

High Ridge Trail, on the east side of Highway 163, climbs a ridge between Gans Creek and Clear Creek and provides views of the surrounding country. The trail measures 2.3 miles.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is south of Columbia, west of Highway 63 on Highway 163.

Three Creeks Conservation Area

Nearby Three Creeks Conservation Area is more lightly traveled than Rock Bridge, but well worth visiting. The same limestone geology responsible for Rock Bridge has created a topography that is often dramatic, especially along Turkey Creek. Other sections of the conservation area display high-canopied upland forest and reclaimed farmland.

From the parking lot at the end of Deer Park Road, the trail meanders east through mature oak and maple forest before dropping toward Turkey Creek. Despite the steep topography of the area, the trail itself is relatively easy to hike. As you follow the charming, rock-bottomed creek, you'll see beautiful limestone outcroppings, some leaning over the water, some towering above. The trail crosses the sleepy creek more than once, so avoid this trail within a day or two of any sizable rain.

If you opt to take the first marked trail back to the parking lot, you will cover a total of 1.7 miles. The longer loop is 2.7 miles and follows Turkey Creek further before climbing north.

For a smoother, but less scenic hike follow the horse/bicycle paths.

From Highway 63, drive 1.75 miles west on Deer Park Road to get to Three Creeks Conservation Area.


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