Big Piney Trail

MODERATE 8 reviews
#2 of 2 trails in

Big Piney Trail is a 17.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Plato, MO that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

17.1 miles 2929 feet Loop

dogs on leash





nature trips


horseback riding




wild flowers


over grown

Directions: From Roby, MO take Hwy 17 north 2 miles, turn right on Forest Road 7600 (watch for Forest Service campground sign), go 6 miles, turn right on Forest Road 220 and go 2 miles to Paddy Creek recreation area. From Roby, MO take Hwy 17 north 1 mile; turn right on gravel Forest Road 274, and go about .6 miles to Roby Lake Recreation Area. From Licking, MO take Hwy 32 west 4 miles to Hwy N; go 2 miles to Hwy AF, then 7 miles to Big Piney Trail Camp.

1 month ago

Great trail once you get out past the trailhead. Really liked the changes of elevation and how narrow the trail is. It makes you feel like you're hiking off the beaten path. Enjoyed the small little stops like the mini waterfalls. Only did a 3rd of the north loop, but plan on completing the entire thing with an overnight very soon.

6 months ago

it was very nice me an my son went camped one night did the south loop going back for sure

6 months ago

It's a good trail with a few nice bluffs, small waterfalls, native wild flowers, and rocky climbs. there are some nice places to camp as well.

8 months ago

Great hike, trail needs maintenance. A lot of variety.

8 months ago

My son and I experienced this trail on Feb 13th. We started at the Roby Lake trailhead parking lot and took the South loop. The signage was fine and the trail was easy to follow, even in winter. As mentioned by others there is enough up and down to get some excercise, but plenty of flat areas to make some time. About 10-15 minutes up the trailhead there is a "Y" where the north and south branches divide. Around 90% of the area are Oak trees with a frew groves of pine trees. You'll be walking along, and then all of a sudden you will find yourself in the pines. There is a scenic overlook on the South trail that is nice. You work your way up to a plateau of pine trees with rocks around, and there are some fairly sheer dropoffs which provide for some spectacular views. Eventually you come to another (second) "Y" where you can continue on with the south, or switchover to the north trail. We continued on with the south, and camped about 2 hours in on the right side of the trail in a grove of pine trees. We never saw or heard anyone. That night we had a sleet / ice storm and fortunately we had stored some try wood under our hammocks so that we could build a quick warming fire in the morning. It never went above freezing the whole time we were there. The hike back felt strenuous due to the cold, fatigue, and weight of our packs. The trail was a bit slippery due to the frozen rain, but we made it back and was able to drive out again. Overall it was a great time in a beautiful area, and would recommend it.

9 months ago

Great backpacking experience. There is a north and south loop that connect at the trailheads. We went in the fall, which was absolutely beautiful.

1 year ago

just finished walking the trail. Confusing can't figure out the North Loop to make it longer than the south. Great trail just wished it was marked a bit better. Great to get out and enjoy this trail. Just seemed to someone bypass the waterfall.

5 years ago

The Big Piney Trail is a 17 mile loop that is able to be completed easily with an overnight stay. Overall the trail was not difficult with most of the +/- 300ft elevation changes being stretched out over an extended portion of the trail. The biggest changes in elevation are the descent from the north scenic overlook to Paddy Creek and ascent up from Paddy Creek on the south side. Both have 200ft elevation changes within a relative short distance. These sections are not overwhelming but they are enough to elevate your heart rate and make you to breathe a little heavier. Water has been known to be a little difficult to find although I didn't experience any difficulty finding good water sources on my hike.

The pros:
The scenic bluffs,
The spring on the northwest section of the trail,
Paddy Creek,
Balancing Rock (I did not visit Balancing Rock, however, I crossed three women on horseback that stopped to show me pictures. *smile*)

The cons:
The trail has endured damage in a few areas due to rain and the horse traffic.
The trail is littered with horse droppings, watch your step.
There are several sections along the trail that have fire rings and logs moved to create camp areas (so much for no trace).

One caveat on my review is the time of year I went and this may have been the reason I did not give this the "Oh boy. What a trip!" rating, a.k.a. 4 stars. Most sites suggest this to be a fall/winter/spring trip because the trees are not full or that they are more colorful providing a more spectacular view at the overlooks.

*Modified to 4/5 stars on 2/7/2013 to reflect change from 4 to 5 star system*