The hot, humid days of Missouri would be nearly unbearable were it not for all the lakes, streams and rivers we have in every corner of the state. Next time the mercury keeps going up, up, up, cool down with one of these waterfront trails. And while you’re at it, check out these
11 amazing trails throughout the state!
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1. Rotary Riverfront Trail – Washington
The Rotary Riverfront trails spans nearly 3 miles (one way) and parallels the scenic Missouri River. Its asphalt surface makes it ideal for both hikers and bikers. The trail is accessible via James W. Rennick Memorial Park, #1 Elbert Dr., Washington, MO 63090
2. Table Rock Lakeshore Trail – Branson
This easy, 2.25-mile trail begins at the State Park Marina and ends at Dewey Short Visitor Center. Because it runs right along the shoreline, the views of the lake are A+ the entire time. The trail also shares a section with the 1.5-mile Chinquapin Trail, so if you’re looking for a slightly longer hike or bike ride that includes water, you may want to start at that trailhead, located off State Park Drive across from the picnic area.
3. Riverfront Heritage Trail – Kansas City
This 15-mile scenic trail goes from the riverfront and historic parts of Kansas City; there are sections in both Missouri and Kansas. To access just the part that runs along the Missouri River, start at the trailhead at Berkley Riverfront Park, Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64120. Plans are in the works to connect the trail to Lewis and Clark Trail’s Kaw Point (pictured) on the Kansas side of the city.
4. Creve Coeur Lakeview Loop Trail – Creve Coeur
This 3.7-mile loop winds around picturesque Creve Coeur Lake. If you go on a good day, you’ll see sailboats gracefully glide around the water as you make your way around the trail. The paved trail makes for a smooth walk. The trail is accessed via Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, 13725 Marine Ave, St. Louis, MO 63146.
5. Missouri Riverfront Trail – Platte County
This 3.25-mile walking and biking path goes from E.H. Young Park in Riverside to Burlington Creek east of English Landing Park, following the Missouri River the entire way. Access the trail at the West Trailhead (Highway 9 west, second left after N. Mattox Road). This trail was the first in the area to be located on top of a levee.
6. Thousand Hills Trail – Kirksville
At 10.5 miles, this trail is a long one, but it does provide picturesque views of Forest Lake, and the trip can be shortened by utilizing a connector. Besides the lake, you'll also see rugged forested terrain. It's located at Thousand Hills State Park, 20431 MO-157, Kirksville, MO 63501.
7. River Scene Trail – Ballwin
Located in Castlewood State Park (1401 Kiefer Creek Rd, Ballwin, MO 63021), this 3.2-mile loop trail runs along the Meramec River. It also climbs some bluffs along the river, so you'll get a look at the water from up high, too! Connectors along the trail allow you to shorten the walk or bike ride, if desired.
8. Current River Section of the Ozark Trail
Widely reported to be the most scenic trail in the state, the Current River section of the Ozark Trail. It more or less parallels the river for the first two miles before heading up Indian Creek and then descending to Rocky Creek. Along the way, you'll see gorgeous shut-ins and expansive views of the Ozarks. This trail is not for the faint of heart - it's 30 miles, so you'll need a few days to do the entire thing. Access the trail head via Powder Mill, Shannon County Road 533 and Highway 60.
9. Stephens Lake Park Trail – Columbia
Perfect for an easy yet scenic jaunt, the trail circling Stephens Lake Park is just 0.6 miles. Do a few laps while you gaze at the serene waters of the lake. Either circle the entire lake, or cut across via the boardwalk, which leads to an island shelter, the perfect spot for a picnic or quiet contemplation. The park's address is 2001 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201, Columbia, MO 65201.
10. Riverfront Trail – St. Louis
This 11-mile trail follows the Mississippi River, from the Gateway Arch to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. The bridge alone is worth the ride - it has a unique 22-degree bend in the middle and provides stunning views of the river. This trail is especially good for city lovers, as it provides more urban than nature views. Start downtown at 1246 Lewis St. St. Louis, MO 63103.