Explore hiking trails in Missouri Conservation, Wilderness and State Forest Areas!

Missouri Hiking Trails, MO Conservation and Wilderness Hiking
Best Hiking Trails in Missouri, Midwest Trails

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These MO hiking trails in Missouri Conservation and Wilderness Areas are located near St. Louis in Iron & Reynolds County MO, in the Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area.  Come for a day hike near St. Louis or come for a weekend or week long hiking trip if you have more time.

Hiking Trails in Missouri Conservation Areas and Missouri State Forests

Hiking Millstream Gardens Conservation Area
This 614-acre tract of land boasts the Tiemann Shut-ins of the St. Francis River before it passes in to the Silver Mines Area.  A wide variety of animals live here.  Species vary from the rare collared lizard to the more common whitetail deer, turkey, dove, quail, rabbit and squirrels that inhabit the uplands.  Fish for bass, crappie, walleye, goggle eye and sunfish.  In March during high water, Missouri's premier Whitewater Championships take place here.  The granite riverbed and mini-gorges of the St. Francis, geologically termed "shut-ins," are a delight to view.  Predominantly a forest area, this wooded corridor is a part of Missouri's Natural Area Systems.  The facility features a boat ramp, picnic area, pavilion and archery range.  12.5 miles from 21 and 221 via 21 south, then Hwy 72 East.

Hiking Buford Mountain State Forest and Trail
Rich in history, this 3,743 acre forest is named after William Buford who acquired the land through a Spanish Land Grant in 1812.  In the mid-to-late 1800s, the site served as the hub of the charcoal industry in our region.  Old kilns still dot the entire mountain.  Numerous Indian mounds, arrowheads and other artifacts have been found at the site.  The Missouri Department of Conservation acquired Missouri's 3rd highest mountain (1740 feet) and the surrounding property in 1979.  A strenuous 10.2 mile hike on the Buford Mountain Trail provides incredible views of the Arcadia and Belleview Valleys.  The areas most outstanding features are its glades, ranging in size from less than 1 acre to over 10 acres, providing scenic views and excellent opportunities to observe glade plants and animals.  As the glades are very sensitive, activity is restricted to walking only.  A favorite of turkey hunters, the area is suitable for deer hunting as well.  9.9 miles north of Highways 21 and 221.

Hiking Trails Ketcherside Mountain Conservation Area and the Royal Gorge    
The Royal Gorge Natural Area (visible from Highway 21 just south of Ironton), is a portion of this 3,276 acre segment of the St. Francois Mountains Natural Area.  Hike or backpack through igneous (rhyolite) glades and cliffs, scarlet oak-pine forest, oak-hickory forest and a headwaters stream of the Ozark Natural Division.  Mostly forest, birdwatchers will find glade and forest birds.  Hunt for deer, squirrel or turkey.  With a special use permit, furbearer trapping is also allowed.  Horseback riding is permitted on roads open to vehicles.  The Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail passes through Ketcherside Mountain Conservation Area (Horseback riding is prohibited on this section of trail). Nuts, berries, fruits, mushrooms and wild greens can be found in abundance and may be taken for personal use.  Highway 21, 5 miles south of Arcadia/Ironton.

Hiking Grasshopper Hollow   please tread lightly
This is the largest, most significant fen complex in unglaciated North America and the largest known prairie fen in Missouri.  A fen is a low, marsh-like area where water plays an important role in how the ecosystem functions. It is usually very wet and grassy with a variety of plant and animal species.  Grasshopper Hollow is controlled by the Nature Conservancy whose mission is "to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth" by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. This 223 acre tract has a self-guided one-half mile long trail with 10 interpretive stations including an observation deck. Its wet, stony ground (in knee-deep water) is laced with beaver runs among a rich assemblage of native grasses and sedges. Among many native forbs and grasses, a visitor may find swamp agrimony, arrowleaved tear-thumb, prairie cordgrass, big bluestem, swamp aster, rough-leaf goldenrod and Michigan lily. Notable animal species include beavers, the rare four-toed salamander and the rare wood frog. In 2000, the federally endangered Hine's Emerald Dragonfly was discovered to be breeding at this site (renowned for its beautiful emerald green eyes, it is the only dragonfly on the Federal list of endangered species). A spur of the Ozark Trail borders the preserve.  Two miles south of Centerville on Highway 21, take Highway 72 west. Approximately one mile past the Highway B intersection at Reynolds, turn right on County Road 860 and proceed about 0.6 miles to the parking area.

Hiking Logan Creek Conservation Area

Totaling approximately 12,000 acres in Reynolds County, Logan Creek Conservation Area lies south of the Black River and north of the Current River.  Heavily forested with shortleaf pine growth and white oak, there are sinkholes, fens and seeps in the water areas where buttonbush, swamp rose, bulrush, groundnut, sedges and panic grass can be found. When hiking, you may see a 1/2 acre shrub swamp, a gasconade dolomite sinkhole, two roubidoux dolomite sink holes and a roubidoux dolomite glade.  Pond shrub swamp communities occur only in sinkholes and other natural upland depressions. They are endangered natural communities in Missouri.  The area is a popular place for hunters seeking deer, turkey and squirrel. There are no designated trails, but area access roads may be hiked. Hwy 21 to Hwy 106, north of Ellington. The main tract is 3 miles north of Highway 106 on Route B.

Hiking Deer Run Conservation Area
Historically significant in our region, Deer Run offers many recreational opportunities for public use. Hunting, fishing, hiking, primitive camping, sightseeing and photography may be enjoyed during all seasons of the year. This 7,475 -acre tract of land lies in the middle of the vast Ozark forest and is typical of the heavily timbered Ozark hills. It supports healthy stands of pine and oak.  About 0.6 miles north on the logging road rests the remains an important piece of Missouri's Civil War history. This fortification, a type of earthen fort or Reden, is also known as Fort Barnesville. For more on Fort Barnesville, on the National Register of Historic Places, please see our Missouri Civil War page. In addition the first steel fire tower in Missouri was erected on the site in 1926. One of the first steps in fire prevention in Missouri, the fire tower is still used today.  Covering three acres, Buford Pond (a manmade pond thought to have been built by the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company and named for Senator Wilbur Buford from Ellington) is stocked with large mouth bass and channel catfish.  The pond has several shaded picnic tables surrounding it and is the perfect serenely beautiful location to have lunch or just relax.   Deer Run also has a firearms shooting range and provides shooters with 25-, 50- and 100-yard shooting stations and a shotgun range. Restroom facilities are also located here.  The Civilian Conservation Corps, founded in 1933 as one of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs, had a camp at Deer Run. The rock house that still stands on the property was an administrative center for the camp. Go 3 miles west of Ellington on Highway 106. There are 3 entrances: one is located 3 miles west of Ellington on Hwy 106. Another is located on South Road in Ellington. The other is located on Reynolds County Road 626.

For maps and directions to our region, please click here.

For other exciting recreational opportunities in the Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area in Reynolds County and Iron County MO, please visit our Recreation Pages. Learn about Float Trips on the Black River, Missouri Birding and Birdwatching, Hunting and Fishing, Missouri Wineries in our Region and Missouri Trail Riding and Horseback Riding. Visit missouri-vacations.com.  Or, for other businesses and services near these hiking trails, see the Chamber of Commerce websites at www.lestervillemissouri.com and www.arcadiavalley.biz.  For excellent firsthand reviews of many of these trails, see Danny's Missouri Backpacking & Hiking Trails Reviews at www.motrails.com

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