Below is an interactive map of all the Missouri trails and campsites we have visited since starting Trails for Two. Read the alphabetized blurbs below the map for an overview of each trail or campsite. For a more detailed account of our experience on each trail, click on the summary or check out our excursions page.
Difficulty Rating: 6/10
This 11.6-mile loop near Belleview, MO takes you to the top of Bell Mountain, the third tallest mountain in Missouri. Despite its remote location, this is a very popular trail due to the impressive view at the top. Day-hikers can opt for an out-and-back version of the trail by going right at the fork for an 8-mile hike. Backpackers can get water at a stream in the valley left of the fork. We love this trail for its beautiful woods and awe-inspiring sunrise views.
Difficulty Rating: 9/10
This 16-mile loop near Midridge, MO is one of the most remote trails we have ever hiked. The area of Mark Twain National Forest is beautiful, and even boasts some old-growth woods. However, this trail is not for the meek. Listed as a trail for hiking, backpacking, or horseback riding, we found that past the first 5 miles or so it quite clearly becomes an equestrian trail. The trail itself alternates between an actual trail and what looks like an RV path and follows a stream which it crosses ~25 times throughout the entire 16 miles. The stream crossings are quite challenging and time-consuming; we had to hike up or downstream many times in order to find a better place to cross. If you are looking for a day hike, we recommend going left at the fork — the east side of the loop is a beautiful, enjoyable hike. The full loop should be reserved for more advanced adventurers.
Hart Creek Conservation Area
Difficulty Rating: 4/10
Located near Hartsburg, MO, Hart Creek Conservation Area is one of our go-to spots for day hikes. For those living in Columbia or Jefferson City, this is one of, if not the best hiking location within 20 minutes. This hidden gem is big enough that even on the most beautiful days, you won’t feel overcrowded during your hike. The 1.6-mile trail ends at an overlook with a scenic view of the Missouri River and the lowland Marion Bottoms Conservation Area on the other side. Past the overlook, the trail connects to the Katy Trail. There is also much to explore off the trail, and we often have success foraging, occasionally even running into a fellow forager.
Difficulty Rating: 7/10
This section of the Ozark Trail is located in the light pollution desert of Missouri. Although rather hilly, the ‘barely there’ trail gives you the sense of truly hiking through the wilderness. This trail is moderately trafficked for the Ozark Trail, which means you will most likely not see anyone during your excursion. Be sure to check out the old fire watchtower at the trailhead — although we don’t suggest climbing it.
Difficulty Level: 9/10
Although listed on maps as a 30-mile trail, the Current River section of the Ozark Trail is actually a 35-mile excursion when you account for the spur to Rocky Falls and other side adventures you’ll likely want to enjoy. This trail offers a classic Ozark wilderness experience. If you are looking to tackle a section of the Ozark Trail and enjoy opportunities for swimming, this is the trail for you. We recommend just hiking the north section of the trail because the portion on Peck Ranch is less scenic (with exception to the view from Stegall Mountain) and can be extremely dry. Additionally, camping on Peck Ranch is not permitted and portions of the trail are overgrown, requiring quite a bit of bushwacking. For some, part of the enjoyment of hiking is the sense of accomplishment after completing a trail in its entirety. In this case, you will need to make sure you’ve strategically planned your water resupply points.
Difficulty Rating: 4/10
Salt Lick Point, aka Salt Lick Trail, aka Salt Lick and Johnson Loop Trail is a wonderful 3-mile loop trail located 30 minutes south of St. Louis. Although this trail is technically in Illinois, it is on our trails list because it is just across the river. The trail is actually west of St. Louis and is one of our favorites when we are home visiting family. Located on the Illinois bluffs above an old quarry, this is one of the best hiking trails near downtown St. Louis. Halfway through the loop, you will be treated to an overlook with stunning views of the Mississippi River Valley, the downtown St. Louis skyline, and The Arch.
Difficulty Rating: 3/10
Three Creeks Conservation Area gets its name from Turkey Creek, Bass Creek, and Bonne Femme Creek, which run through the 1500-acre natural area. The area features unique rock formations, caves, and even an underground stream. Located 5 miles south of Columbia, MO, Three Creeks offers lush scenery with ample foraging opportunities. There are several parking areas, but regardless of which trailhead you chose, they all eventually lead down to the creek beds!
Difficulty Level: 8/10
Starting from the Camp Five Pond Trailhead, this 20-mile trail weaves through the Irish Wilderness, Missouri’s largest wilderness area. Although moderately difficult, this trail offers a gorgeous, remote excursion. The loop boasts two springs, one creek, and access to the Eleven Point River. Most travelers (including us) recommend hiking this trail counterclockwise due to water source spacing and ease of following the trail. The trail is hard to follow in several places, and we completely lost it once. For this reason, we recommend hiking this trail with a GPS. Going counterclockwise, Bliss Spring is located about 8 miles from the trailhead, followed by White’s Creek 6 miles later, with Fiddler’s Spring 5 miles from the end of the loop. There is a spur trail near Bliss Spring allowing for access to the Eleven Point River, although it is rather steep.