Horseback Riding

A rider on horseback on a wooded trail.
Right to Use

Exploring conservation areas on horseback is a great way to get closer to nature. More than 40 different Missouri conservation areas offer trails open to horseback riding. 

The trails on these conservation areas differ in length and what they offer for riding experiences. Visitors will find everything from trails on grasslands to trails through large tracts of forests and woodlands.

Guidelines for Horseback Riding on MDC Areas

Be Prepared

Plan ahead and bring the necessary supplies for you and your horse. Arriving to the trailhead without water or the necessary equipment is an easy way for a trip to be ruined.


Check the Dates

Trails and service roads may be closed at various times during the year, especially during the firearms portions of 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,

Get a Group Permit

Groups of more than 10 people riding horses on any conservation area must obtain a special use permit.

Know Where You Can Ride

Horses, mules, and donkeys may be ridden on designated multiuse trails that are open to horses and on MDC roads that are open to vehicular traffic.

Horses are not allowed on roads open to vehicular traffic at:

  • August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area
  • Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area
  • Cuivre Island Conservation Area
  • Marais Temps Clair Conservation Area
  • Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
  • Rockwoods Reservation
  • Saint Stanislaus Conservation Area
  • Springfield Conservation Nature Center
  • Weldon Spring Conservation Area
Missouri map icon
Before You Go

Check Places to Go to see if the conservation area you want to visit allows horseback riding or has any road closures on the day you want to ride.

You can search for horse trails using the Advanced Search feature.


The following areas are closed to horseback riding during all portions of the firearms deer hunting season in November, December, and January, and shooting hours of the spring turkey hunting season in April and May:

  • Angeline Conservation Area
  • Apple Creek Conservation Area
  • Bonanza Conservation Area
  • Bunch Hollow Conservation Area
  • Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area
  • Canaan Conservation Area
  • Caney Mountain Conservation Area
  • Castor River Conservation Area
  • Compton Hollow Conservation Area
  • Charlie Heath Memorial Conservation Area
  • Daniel Boone Conservation Area
  • Deer Ridge Conservation Area
  • Fort Crowder Conservation Area
  • Gist Ranch Conservation Area
  • Henry Sever Lake Conservation Area
  • Holly Ridge Conservation Area
  • Honey Creek Conservation Area
  • Lead Mine Conservation Area
  • Little Indian Creek Conservation Area
  • Little Lost Creek Conservation Area
  • Long Ridge Conservation Area
  • Meramec Conservation Area
  • Pleasant Hope Conservation Area
  • Riverbreaks Conservation Area
  • Scrivner Road Conservation Area
  • Sugar Creek Conservation Area
  • Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area
  • Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area
  • University Forest Conservation Area

Trail Etiquette

All riders are responsible for maintaining a safe environment and sharing the trail with others.

  • Don’t ride when wet. Try to stay off wet trails to help reduce erosion and maintain service roads and trails.
  • Share the trail. Always maintain a safe environment and know the appropriate rules for yielding. Generally, everyone should yield to horses, but not everyone will know that.
Trail courtesy order
Source: U.S. Forest Service
Right to Use
  • Stay on trails. Stay on the trail, don’t cut switchbacks, and don’t create new trails. Unofficial trails can be confusing and disorienting to the people who stumble across them.  
  • Respect wildlife. Riding off-trail can intrude on important wildlife habitats, especially for ground-nesting birds. Do not feed wildlife or leave food scraps on trails.
  • Ride single file. When on narrow sections of trails, ride single file. This will prevent the trail from growing wider and creating more maintenance concerns.
  • Leave no trace. Leave the area better than you found it, and follow leave-no-trace principles. Spread your manure, don’t tie horses directly to trees, and don't sweep out horse trailers and leave a mess on the conservation area.

Great Places For Horseback Riding


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