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
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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.

Check the Dates

Trails and service roads may be closed to bicycling and horseback riding during all portions of the firearms deer hunting season and shooting hours of the spring turkey hunting season. Check Places to Go for regulations for the area you plan to visit.

Great Places For Hiking

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view from Barn Hollow
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Barn Hollow Conservation Area is located in Texas County, approximately three miles north of Mo

Events

Find events near you.
Registration period: July 1 - July 27
Date: Saturday, July 27, 2024 8:00 am - Saturday, July 27, 2024 5:00 pm
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center
Put on your hiking shoes and join us for a guided hike of Prairie Garden Trust (Callaway County); 4 miles – moderate. Meet at 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: July 12 - August 1
Date: Thursday, August 1, 2024 9:00 am - Thursday, August 1, 2024 10:30 am
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
Come to Powder Valley and join a naturalist to hit the trails. On this guided hike you will learn about the area's history and ecosystems.
Registration period: July 15 - August 2
Date: Friday, August 2, 2024 6:00 pm - Friday, August 2, 2024 8:00 pm
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center

Note: This program takes place at Three Creeks Conservation Area located on Deer Park Road, five miles south of Columbia.

Join Runge staff and volunteers for an evening hike on Turkey Creek Interpretive Trail, a 2-mile loop, with opportunities for bird watching, wildlife viewing, and exploring Turkey Creek. Wear or bring shoes that can get wet. Runge will provide nets for creek exploration. All ages are welcome, but this trail is not suitable for strollers or wagons of any kind. Meet at the trailhead. Transportation will not be provided. Registration required.
Registration period: July 16 - August 8
Date: Thursday, August 8, 2024 9:00 am - Thursday, August 8, 2024 10:30 am
Location: Phantom Forest Conservation Area
Join the Powder Valley team as we explore hiking areas in and around St. Louis. This week we are going to Phantom Forest. This 13-acre conservation area is nestled near the Barrett Station and Dougherty Ferry intersection.
Registration period: July 16 - August 15
Date: Thursday, August 15, 2024 9:00 am - Thursday, August 15, 2024 10:30 am
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
Join a Powder Valley naturalist as we hit the trails. On this hike we will be on the lookout for fledglings and fawns.
Registration period: April 19 - August 17
Date: Saturday, August 17, 2024 2:00 pm - Saturday, August 17, 2024 4:00 pm
Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center
“Know thy enemy,” we’ve heard the phrase for years, but knowing which species are invasive or not can be daunting. This program is designed as an introductory guide to some of the most common invasive species in southeast Missouri. We will focus on decoding some of the botanical jargon and learning common sense rules that help you target problem plants. This program will be held both indoor and outdoor on the nature center trails. Please dress for high temperatures and bring a bottle of water to hike with. Trails cover graveled, hilly terrain; hiking boots or athletic shoes recommended.
Registration period: July 9 - August 17
Date: Saturday, August 17, 2024 6:15 pm - Saturday, August 17, 2024 8:00 pm
Location: Columbia Bottom Conservation Area

Take a walk to the confluence to watch the August full moon, commonly known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, Grain Moon, or Corn Moon, as it rises over the cool waters of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

Spend a few minutes at the confluence, and then return to lot "L" to watch the sun set over some of this year's last golden fields of sunflowers.

Meet at lot "L", about 4 miles from the entrance. Dress for the weather and bring a water bottle and insect repellent. Don't forget your camera!

Moonrise: 6:58 pm

Sunset: 7:51 pm
Registration period: July 12 - August 19
Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2024 9:00 am - Tuesday, August 20, 2024 10:00 am
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
What’s hiking without a little competition? Combine a short 1/3-mile hike with a classic scavenger hunt game to form fun for the whole family! Join an MDC naturalist at the Tanglevine Trailhead for some healthy competition and outdoor fun. The top 3 winners will receive badges and bragging rights. Don’t forget to dress for the weather and wear good walking shoes!
Registration period: August 1 - August 21
Date: Wednesday, August 21, 2024 8:00 am - Wednesday, August 21, 2024 5:00 pm
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center
Grab your hiking stick for a guided hike of Blossom Rock Trail at Lane Spring (Phelps County); 2 miles – moderate. We’ll also explore Little Piney Creek. Meet at 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 1 - August 24
Date: Saturday, August 24, 2024 8:00 am - Saturday, August 24, 2024 5:00 pm
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center
Put on your hiking shoes and join us for a guided hike of Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park (Miller County); 3 miles – moderate. Meet at 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+