Hiking

Image
Image
A man in a hat walks with boys along a gravel path next to a body of water.
Body

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.

Body

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.

Media
Image
Trail courtesy order
Credit
Source: U.S. Forest Service
Right to Use
Body

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

Certain multiuse trails may be closed to bicycling and horseback riding during spring turkey and fall firearms seasons.  Check Places to Go for regulations for the area you plan to visit.

Great Places For Hiking

Events

Find events near you.
Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2024 9:00 am - Tuesday, February 27, 2024 10:30 am
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
"Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is a natural oasis nestled within 112 acres of oak hickory forest near urban St. Louis. Join MDC Naturalist, Andy Klingensmith, for a guided hike as we explore and discover the natural wonders found throughout this unique conservation area. This program will touch on a range of ecology topics to deepen our appreciation of Missouri’s natural resources. Topics include plant and animal ID, natural history, ecological management, and conservation philosophy. Whether you’re a regular to Powder Valley, or someone looking for new hiking trails, join us as we discover the sights and sounds of Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center."
Registration period: February 13 - March 1
Date: Saturday, March 2, 2024 9:00 am - Saturday, March 2, 2024 11:00 am
Location: Columbia Bottom Conservation Area

Follow a seldom-used trail through the woods and look for long-buried forgotten treasures and new treasures under the fallen leaves.

Peek beneath the leaves to see green shoots of new plants pushing upward as they lift the fallen leaves. Look for early leaf buds on the trees.

Listen for the sweet spring songs of the birds, the gobbling of turkeys, the trills of spring peepers, and calls of chorus frogs.

Warm up with hot chocolate at the end of the hike.

Dress for the weather with sturdy shoes or boots. Bring a water bottle, camera, and a walking stick if you have one.

Meet the naturalist guides at lot "H," a 20-minute drive from the Columbia Bottom front gate.
Date: Thursday, March 7, 2024 3:00 pm - Thursday, March 7, 2024 4:30 pm
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
"Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is a natural oasis nestled within 112 acres of oak hickory forest near urban St. Louis. Join MDC Naturalist, Andy Klingensmith, for a guided hike as we explore and discover the natural wonders found throughout this unique conservation area. This program will touch on a range of ecology topics to deepen our appreciation of Missouri’s natural resources. Topics include plant and animal ID, natural history, ecological management, and conservation philosophy. Whether you’re a regular to Powder Valley, or someone looking for new hiking trails, join us as we discover the sights and sounds of Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center."
Registration period: March 1 - March 9
Date: Saturday, March 9, 2024 8:00 am - Saturday, March 9, 2024 5:00 pm
Location: Runge Conservation Nature Center
Put on your hiking shoes and join us for a guided hike of the Bluff Ridge and Western Wallflower Trails at Truman State Park (Benton 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+
Registration period: February 26 - March 10
Date: Monday, March 11, 2024 10:00 am - Monday, March 11, 2024 12:00 pm
Location: Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area

The weather is warming up and getting outside is a great way to kick those winter blues. Looking for shed deer antlers is a great way to spend time outdoors. This program will help sharpen your skills at finding those coveted, often elusive tokens of nature.

We will meet at the main parking lot by the maintenance building off 96 HWY. There we will discuss the biology of deer antlers and the process of shedding. From there, we will head out for a hands-on shed hunt.

Participants should plan to wear sturdy shoes for hiking off trail and/or muddy conditions.
Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2024 9:00 am - Tuesday, March 12, 2024 10:30 am
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
"Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is a natural oasis nestled within 112 acres of oak hickory forest near urban St. Louis. Join MDC Naturalist, Andy Klingensmith, for a guided hike as we explore and discover the natural wonders found throughout this unique conservation area. This program will touch on a range of ecology topics to deepen our appreciation of Missouri’s natural resources. Topics include plant and animal ID, natural history, ecological management, and conservation philosophy. Whether you’re a regular to Powder Valley, or someone looking for new hiking trails, join us as we discover the sights and sounds of Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center."
Registration period: February 21 - March 14
Date: Thursday, March 14, 2024 1:00 pm - Thursday, March 14, 2024 2:00 pm
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

March is Women's History Month! Lace up your boots and embark on a journey inspired by the women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our planet. This hike is more than just a trek through nature; it's a walk through history, learning about and celebrating the pioneering women who have shaped the field of conservation.

This hike will take place on the Hickory Ridge trail, which is a little over 1-mile loop. Wear good walking shoes, dress for the weather, and be prepared for some inclines and declines. Meet the naturalist at the frog statue in front of the nature center.
Registration period: February 13 - March 15
Date: Saturday, March 16, 2024 9:00 am - Saturday, March 16, 2024 12:00 pm
Location: Dresser Island Conservation Area

Take a hike with us on Dresser Island on the Mississippi River. Dresser Island is a great place to discover eagles and hawks as well as pelicans, ducks, and other spring migrants.

We will take a 3.5-mile walk looking for evidence of beavers, deer, and muskrats.

Dress for the weather and bring a walking stick if you have one. Bring binoculars, field guides, cameras, and water as well.

Meet in the parking lot for Dresser Island off Highway 94 about 5 miles west of West Alton in St. Charles County.
Registration period: February 23 - March 19
Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 10:00 am - Tuesday, March 19, 2024 11:30 am
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

Join an MDC naturalist on a hike on Powder Valley’s Broken Ridge Trail. On this hike we will be looking for native flowering trees like dogwoods and red buds. Broken Ridge Trail is a 2/3 mile paved trail.

Please dress for the weather and bring water for the hike.
Registration period: February 15 - March 19
Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 1:00 pm - Tuesday, March 19, 2024 2:30 pm
Location: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
What is the difference between an equinox and an equilux? Join us to discover how the length of the day changes throughout the year, and how that affects the plants, animals and people. We will hike the Hickory Ridge Trail (1.3 miles) and use our senses to experience how nature is changing out of winter, noticing which plants are emerging welcoming the spring. Bring along water, a snack, and dress for the weather.