When it comes to exploring the outdoors, stay on the beaten path or take a walk on the wild side with trails for all skill levels and abilities in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas.
Galloway Creek Greenway
Ozark Greenways offers a diversity of trails including rails-to-trails, paved trails, gravel trails, a water trail and natural-surface trails. With more than 140 miles of trails crisscrossing Springfield’s terrain and connecting other communities to the city, recreational opportunities are available for people of all ages and abilities. Enjoy mountain biking, kayaking, walking and other activities with Ozark Greenways.
Henning Conservation Area
Much of this 1,534-acre area consists of steep hills covered with forest interspersed with a series of scenic glades that make up the White River Balds Natural Area. The area also includes a small section of bottomland forest along a one-half mile stretch of Roark Creek, a relatively undisturbed Ozark headwaters stream.
Address: Branson, MO 65616
Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Escape the city without leaving city limits at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center. Three miles of walking trails provide opportunities for tree and plant identification, bird watching and spotting animals native to the Ozarks, including deer, wild turkey, mink, muskrat, reptiles and more. The trails vary in length from a 15-minute walk on a paved surface to a 1-hour walk on various surfaces that take visitors through a variety of habitats such as glades, river bottoms, forests and others.
This trail goes around Stockton Lake and provides spectacular views of the lake popular for sailboating and other water activities. It passes through State Park beach, a good place to take a break and joins with Umber Ridge trail. During winter months this is a great area for viewing bald eagles and other waterfowl. Plan on at least six hours to complete the trail.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
The paved tour road through Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield includes a wide path alongside for bikers and walkers. Other trails throughout the park offer ways to explore the historic sites and scenery. The battlefield also has trails for equestrian experiences.
An option bike riders should consider is taking advantage of The LINK, a designated route along city streets that have low traffic volume and slow speed. The LINK consists of Ozark Greenways trails along with other pathways connecting neighborhoods, business centers and modes of transportation, including university campuses, parks, Battlefield Mall, downtown, Commercial Street and others.
37 North Expeditions
37 North Expeditions
Leave the city and explore the area’s well-known trails with the assistance of professional guides who know the ins and outs of the Ozarks. From easy to expert levels, 37 North Expeditions helps people enjoy Lost Valley Hiking Trail, Sam’s Throne Trail and many others known for breathtaking scenery that includes, lakes, waterfalls, herds of wild horses and more.
Big Piney Trail
Be sure to bring water and a map, because hiking Big Piney Trail means you’re hiking in the wilderness. Signs and trail markings are sparse, there are no bridges across the creeks and the trail may be rough. It might be a challenge to hike this trail but its remoteness almost guarantees solitude.
Address: 401 Fairgrounds Rd., Rolla, MO 65401
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
This 10,000-acre unspoiled paradise offers several opportunities for biking, horseback riding, Segway tours, tram tours and private tours of the park’s natural waterfalls, greenery, and open fields filled with roaming buffalo.
Greer Spring Trail
You’ll be in awe when you reach Greer Spring, the second largest spring in Missouri. Access to the spring is via a .9-mile trail that descends about 250 feet along a gentle gradient from the trailhead at Missouri Highway 19. Flowing down a rock-filled canyon for one mile, the spring branch enters the Eleven Point River.
Address: Alton, MO 65606
For a nearby float, paddle the pretty James River Water Trail between the Joe Crighton access and the Lake Springfield boathouse where you can rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.
South of Springfield, the James continues through Christian and Stone counties. A few access points between Delaware Town and Galena include Shelvin Rock, Hooten Town and Kerr. Or paddle the nearby Finley, a James River tributary, from Finley Park in Ozark or below the dam at Lindenlure Lake.
Related Post: Floating The Ozarks
Cedar Gap Conservation Area
Visitors can explore the headwaters of Bryant Creek, view limestone glades and explore the forest at this conservation area. A ⅜-mile gravel-surfaced trail leads from the parking lot to a valley overlook. For a more rugged hike, visitors can continue beyond the overlook and hike the 1.6-mile loop trail. While hiking or exploring, visitors will notice the remnants of a limestone quarry and limestone glades.
Address: Mansfield, MO 65704
Chadwick Motorcycle and ATV Use Area
Nearly 80 miles of multi-use trails for ATV, UTV, motorcycles and mountain bikes wind in and out of deep, forested hollows and down long ridge tops. The riding area has evolved to a point where portions of all trails have a "most difficult" rating; all riders will encounter advanced riding challenges.
Address: Lookout Rd, Chadwick, MO 65629
Dirt 66 Mountain Bike/Walking Trail
Construction of a new 6.65-mile long mountain biking and walking trail at Fellows Lake, the first phase in an eventual 33-mile, $1.8 million trail project began in 2020 north of Springfield at Fellows Lake. The "Dirt 66" mountain bike/walking trail project is funded by Springfield-based TrailSpring, Inc., a nonprofit that has been working to expand biking opportunities in the Springfield area.
Address: Coming Soon