There are so many gorgeous hikes in Missouri, a person could live their entire life and never have time to experience all the beauty and nature that Missouri provides. Even the most novice hiker can probably maneuver most of these trails, as all of them are under 5 miles long. Missouri has over 50 state parks, all with trail systems of varying levels, but here are a few that we particularly love. For more information on Missouri State Parks, visit
1. Lake Trail at Trail of Tears State Park
One of three trails under 5 miles at Trail of Tears State Park, the Lake Trail is a rugged, 2 ¼-mile picturesque trail that passes along the shores of Lake Boutin, then loops around the basic campground.
Along the way, you might see the remains of old homesteads, or rows of tulip poplars.
There are two other trails at this park under 5 miles: the 0.6-mile Nature Trail and the 3 mile Sheppard Point Trail.
Trail of Tears State Park is located at 429 Moccasin Springs Road in Jackson.
2. Drover’s Trail, Prairie State Park
Prairie State Park actually has 6 trails that are all under 5 miles, and all rated easy. The park itself is known for its herd of around 100 American bison that roam the hills and trails on the largest remaining remnant of tall grass prairie-land in Missouri. The flourishing wildflowers make for a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable hike.
Drover's Trail is an easy 3-mile hike that divides into two separate loops. On the small loop, you might catch a glimpse of bison or elk roaming free. The larger loop crosses a small stream then continues up a hill with a great view of the prairie and its swaying grasses.
Prairie State Park is located at 128 NW 150th Lane in Mindenmines.
3. Redbud Trail at Crowder State Park
The Redbud Trail at Crowder State Park is a moderate 1.75-mile trail. It follows along a beautiful headwater stream and travels through a forest lined with sandstone ridges. It travels up a hill through woodlands full of white oak and hickory trees.
Also at Crowder State Park you will find the 2-mile River Forks Trail and 3-mile Tall Oaks Trail.
Crowder State Park is located at 76 MO-128 in Trenton.
4. Snow Trillium Trail at Battle of Athens State Historic Site
Spring is an excellent time to visit Battle of Athens State Historic Site in northeast Missouri, when the two-mile Snow Trillium Trail blooms with wildflowers. The 2-mile long, moderate trail has bluff-top views of the Des Moines River. There are a wide variety of native plant life including hickory, walnut and oak trees, and at one point in the trail you come to small waterfalls cascading down the rock walls to Stallion Branch. When the trail eventually reaches the bluff tops, there are beautiful views both up and down the Des Moines River.
Another short trail at Battle of Athens State Historic Site is the 0.3-mile Mill Trail.
Battle of Athens State Historic Site is located at Highway CC in Revere in Clark County.
5. Shaw Nature Reserve
A country branch of the Missouri Botanical Garden, this nature reserve has a variety of trails that allow you to wander through restored prairies, woods with bluff overlooks and a lower forest filled with giant sycamores. End the hike at a gravel bar on the Meramec River, which is a perfect spot for a picnic. Altogether there are 14 miles of hiking trails that allow for a variety of hiking distances.
Shaw Nature Reserve is located at Missouri 100 & Interstate 44 Business in Gray Summit.
6. Trail Through Time at Pickle Springs Natural Area
Trail Through Time is a 1.9-mile loop-trail that has been designated a National Natural Landmark. It features a pine and hardwood forest, seasonal waterfalls, and outstanding rock formations, including a rare double arch. It also has beautiful bluff overlooks and shallow caves to explore.
Pickle Springs Natural Area is located off Hwy 32 in Ste. Genevieve.
7. Pickle Creek Trail at Hawn State Park
The beautiful Pickle Creek Trail at Hawn State Park is a short 0.7-mile rugged hike along sandy-bottom Pickle Creek. The creek winds between granite boulders sculpted by water, and exposes amazing sandstone bluffs.
The park also features the more moderate White Oaks Trail, another shorter trail at 3.75 miles long.
Hawn State Park is located at 12096 Park Drive in Ste. Genevieve.
8. Allen Brohn Memorial Trail or Hickory Canyons Natural Area Trail at Hickory Canyons Natural Area
Hickory Canyons is a lesser known natural area in Ste. Genevieve County with two beautiful hiking trails. The Allen Brohn Memorial Trail is a one-mile loop trail on the north side of Sprott Road that provides access to a wet weather waterfall.
The Natural Area Trail is a 1.5 mile loop trail that descends into a heavily forested deep ravine featuring sandstone bluffs and rock outcroppings, wet weather creeks and seasonal waterfalls.
Hickory Canyons Natural Area is located in Ste. Genevieve County, northeast of Farmington.
9. The Shut-ins Trail at Sam A. Baker State Park
The Shut-Ins Trail at Sam A. Baker State Park is a 1.25-mile hike to the Big Creek shut-ins through shaded bottom-land woods. The trail takes you down several steps, and across a foot bridge to a second staircase that takes you down to Big Creek.
Following the base of Mudlick Mountain, you pass by majestic trees, rich vegetation, and in the spring, water cascading over giant boulders. The Big Creek shut-ins is a swimming hole close to the end of the trail. Stop off for a quick swim before the return trip up the trail.
Another short trail at this park is the two-mile Fire Tower trail.
Sam A. Baker State Park is located in Wayne County in the Saint Francois Mountains region of the Missouri Ozarks.
10. Frenchman’s Bluff Trail at Cuivre River State Park
The Frenchman’s Bluff Trail is a rugged, 1 ½ mile popular trail at Cuivre River State Park. It begins and ends near the west side of the picnic shelter, following Geode Creek then traveling up a hill to the top of Frenchman’s Bluff. From here, you can see amazing views of Cuivre River valley.
There are other trails at CRSP including several under 5 miles: Old Schoolhouse Trail (3.85 miles), Big Sugar Creek Trail (3.75 miles), Blazing Star Trail (2 miles), Hamilton Hollow Trail (less than a mile), Lakeside Trail (3.5 miles), Mossy Hill Trail, Prairie Trail, and Turkey Hollow Trail (all less than a mile).
Cuivre River State Park is located northeast of the city of Troy in the Lincoln Hills region of northeastern Missouri.
11. Scour Trail at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park
The rugged, 2-mile Scour Trail at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park leads visitors to a scour channel of the mountainside. It was created when the Upper Taum Sauk Reservoir broke in 2005, and sent 1.3 billion gallons of water flowing down the mountain through the park. 1.5 miles were stripped of trees, flowers, and soil.
You can visit the interpretive pavilion and the upper overlook to learn more about the scour and the geology that was exposed during this event. You can walk into the scour itself along a spur trail.
There are several other shorter trails at Johnson’s Shut Ins State Park: Black River Trail System (3.15 miles), Campground Trail System (3 miles), Horseshoe Glade Trail (1.5 miles), and the Shut-Ins Trail (2.2 miles).
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is located at 148 Taum Sauk Trail near Middle Brook.
Where is your favorite place in Missouri to go for a hike? Have you traveled any of these trails? We would love to hear from you!