Hiking

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A man in a hat walks with boys along a gravel path next to a body of water.
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Take a hike! Our conservation areas have miles of hiking and multiuse trails. Go to your favorite area and explore.

Some trails are multiuse, which means there may also be cyclists, horseback riders, dog walkers, bird watchers, photographers, and others on the trail. Being mindful of others can make outdoor recreation a great experience for everyone.

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Guidelines for Hiking on MDC Areas

Stay on the Trail

Straying from the trail may disturb the places many plants and animals call home.

Maintain a Respectful Volume

There’s no need to whisper, but yelling or listening to loud music can bother wildlife or other people using the trail.

Leave No Trace

Do not leave any trash or personal belongings out on the trails or the surrounding areas. This includes things such as chicken bones, banana peels, and apple cores. Leaving these items along the trail can be dangerous for wildlife and make nature less beautiful.

Know Your Right of Way

Generally, hikers yield to horseback riders only, but check the signage on each trail for special cases. When it comes to other hikers, yield to groups, uphill hikers, and hikers moving at a faster pace.

Before You Go

Check Places to Go to see if the conservation area you want to visit has hiking trails. You can search for trails using the Advanced Search feature.

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Trail courtesy order
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Source: U.S. Forest Service
Right to Use
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Be Prepared

Being prepared can make or break your hiking experience, so make sure you set yourself up to enjoy it.

  • Always pack water — staying hydrated is important when you are engaging in strenuous activities.
  • Check the weather before you go hiking, and dress accordingly. If the temperature will change significantly during your hike, wear layered clothing using items that are easy to change and light enough to carry.
  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes or boots that you are not afraid to get dirty.
  • Prevent discomfort from the elements with bug spray and sunscreen.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Paying attention to your surroundings can help keep you and others safe and keep you from getting lost. Being aware can also prevent injuries, accidents, and negative encounters with wildlife.

Respect Wildlife

If you encounter wildlife on a trail, please give the animal space. It is likely just passing by and will cause no harm if left alone. However, as black bears make a comeback in southern Missouri, as a hiker, you must be "bear aware"  and know what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking.

Events

Find events near you.
Registration period: August 1 - October 8
Date: Saturday, October 8, 2022 9:00 am - Saturday, October 8, 2022 1:30 pm
Location: Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Hiking in autumn is one of our favorite things! Meet us at the Fellows Lake Trail Head East. The trail is an out and back with forest and lake views. Hike is five miles and rated easy to moderate. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring a water bottle. Bring binoculars if you like. This program is for women only. Ages 14-adult. Girls ages 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult female.
Registration period: September 13 - October 12
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2022 1:00 pm - Thursday, October 13, 2022 3:00 pm
Location: Rockwoods Reservation
Come spend a delightful fall afternoon hiking in Rockwoods Reservation. We will discuss why tree leaves change color. Hopefully we will be able to see and identify many beautiful trees as they show their fall colors. You will also see how “Wise Use” over the past 84 years has transformed Rockwoods into an amazingly beautiful place. Open to participants who can hike a 1 1/2 mile trail with a 200-foor elevation.
Registration period: September 16 - October 10
Date: Friday, October 14, 2022 9:00 am - Friday, October 14, 2022 10:30 am
Location: Rockwoods Reservation

Enjoy the peak of fall colors while hiking the Rock Quarry Trail. We will explore the diversity of the forest by engaging our five senses. Meet at the Pavilion. The short loop is a 1-mile hike with a moderate hill. Please dress for the weather.

All ages welcome.

Registration is required. Please register each participant attending.
Registration period: August 15 - September 30
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2022 8:30 am - Sunday, October 16, 2022 5:00 pm
Location: Carr's Canoe Rental
Registration period: October 1 - October 19
Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2022 8:00 am - Wednesday, October 19, 2022 5:00 pm
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center
Grab your hiking stick and join a guided hike at Ha Ha Tonka State Park (Camden County); 5 miles-moderate. Meet at the Runge Nature Center or the trailhead. Some transportation is provided but carpooling may be necessary. Hike leaders will contact participants before the hike to give directions if needed. Wear sturdy shoes, dress for the weather, bring a water bottle, and pack a lunch/snack. Registration required. Ages 18+
Registration period: September 19 - October 19
Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2022 1:00 pm - Wednesday, October 19, 2022 3:00 pm
Location: Rockwoods Reservation
Come spend a delightful fall afternoon hiking in Rockwoods Reservation. We will discuss why tree leaves change color. Hopefully we will be able to see and identify many beautiful trees as they show their fall colors. You will also see how “Wise Use” over the past 84 years has transformed Rockwoods into an amazingly beautiful place. Open to any participants who can hike a 1 1/2 mile trail with a 200-foot elevation gain.
Registration period: August 1 - October 20
Date: Saturday, October 22, 2022 9:00 am - Saturday, October 22, 2022 3:00 pm
Location: Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center
Registration required (adults) Fall is the perfect time to explore the city by foot. Our day-long thru hike will cover roughly seven miles from the Discovery Center through the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods. This moderately paced hike will utilize sidewalks to explore nature in these older neighborhoods. During the hike we will discuss native and invasive plants, wildlife ID, hiking safety and other great urban hikes in KC. The instructor will e-mail the exact hike details to the participants the week prior to the hike. Lunch will be on your own at one of the area restaurants along our hike. If accommodations are needed, please e-mail the instructor after registering and at least one week prior to the program.
Registration period: September 6 - October 21
Date: Saturday, October 22, 2022 9:00 am - Saturday, October 22, 2022 3:00 pm
Location: Weldon Spring Conservation Area

Join us for an 8.3 mile hike through the forests at the Weldon Spring Conservation Area. The Missouri River overlooks offer panoramic views of the floodplains and varying fall colors from the bottomland forests to the Oak, Hickory, and Maple forest on the high terrain of the river bluffs.

Participants will meet at the Weldon Spring Conservation Area Lewis and Clark Trail Head.

Please dress for the weather, and bring water, lunch, binoculars for bird viewing, and a camera.
Registration period: August 1 - October 28
Date: Friday, October 28, 2022 8:15 am - Friday, October 28, 2022 5:00 pm
Location: Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Take a hike around the "castle in the sky" at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Meet at the Nature Center and carpool. Bring a sack lunch and water and wear comfortable hiking shoes. Hike is six to seven miles and rated moderate to difficult. Ages 18-adult.
Registration period: October 1 - October 29
Date: Saturday, October 29, 2022 8:00 am - Saturday, October 29, 2022 5:00 pm
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center
Put on your hiking shoes and join us for a guided hike of Honey Run Trail at Ozarks State Park (Camden County); 4.25 miles – moderate. We will hike the south loop (2.5 miles) after lunch for those who wish to do some additional hiking. Meet at the Runge Nature Center or the trailhead. Some transportation is provided, but carpooling may be necessary. Hike leaders will contact participants before the hike to give directions if needed. Wear sturdy shoes, dress for the weather, bring a water bottle, and pack a lunch/snack. Registration required. Ages 18+
Registration period: August 19 - November 25
Date: Saturday, November 26, 2022 5:30 pm - Saturday, November 26, 2022 8:30 pm
Location: St. Louis Regional Office/Busch Memorial CA

Experience the sounds of the night during a moderate hike at the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area. We will hike the Busch Hiking/Biking Trail which is approximately 3 ½ miles in length. We may hear coyotes howling, and also hear 2 or 3 species of owls calling their mates.

Please dress for the weather and bring a small flashlight.

Registration period: August 19 - December 16
Date: Saturday, December 17, 2022 5:30 pm - Saturday, December 17, 2022 8:30 pm
Location: St. Louis Regional Office/Busch Memorial CA

Experience the sounds of the night during a moderate hike at the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area. We will hike the Busch Hiking/Biking Trail which is approximately 3 ½ miles in length. We may hear coyotes howling, and also hear 2 or 3 species of owls calling their mates.

Please dress for the weather and bring a small flashlight.