Crowder State Park is a 9.5 mile loop trail located near Trenton, MO that features a lake. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round.
The North Loop of the trail can be accessed from the equestrian trailhead or from the south loop connector. Much of this trail is on the open, low-lying floodplain to the Thompson River and crosses through a mature mesic bottomland forest including cottonwood, hackberry, silver maple and pin oak. The floodwaters of the Thompson River, easily visible from the trail, provide nourishment to the bottomland forest. A small section of the trail crosses a level ridge top that has been restored to native tallgrass prairie to reflect the historic vegetation that once dominated the highest elevations. The Thompson house and cemetery are accessible a short distance from this trail. This trail may be susceptible to periodic flooding. The South Loop is marked with green blazes and can be accessed via the 0.8-mile white connector 4 from the North Loop or from Tall Oaks Trail by either the 0.8-mile Northwest Passage or the 0.8-mile Steep Creek connectors. The majority of this trail traverses loess/glacial till woodlands dominated by white oak and hickory. In places, it provides a scenic view of the wooded valley below. A small section of the trail crosses an old agricultural field on the ridgetop. If you traverse both loops and use the white connector 4 twice, the trail is a total of 8.6 miles.
This was a highly wooded trail and it reminded us of the foothills of Tennessee with its elevation and climbs... We chose the short loop and was pleased with it. It's a straight hike with no where to stop and rest, but it's also short. However we have a six and an eight-year-old that could've used a rest halfway through or somewhere decent to take a break. Nice little State Park. Would love for it to have primitive camping!
On my second trip to Crowder, I tried the River Forks Trail. The trailhead is located adjacent to the watercraft launch area at the lake--easy to find on the map. In contrast to the Red Bud Trail, which I hiked earlier in the day, this trail is wider, smoother, and easier climbing. The wildflowers in full bloom in mid-Spring and the lush greenery were so beautiful. The real bonus was coming right up to the Thompson River from the Trail. We hopped off the main trail and made our way down to the [steep] river bank...couldn't get to the shore from where we were. We saw a huge bald eagle swoop down to the river and grab a fish, then fly up to his nest in one of the tall trees on the other side of the river. Amazing sight! We really enjoyed this nice trail and will return.
After hiking the 1.75-mile Redbud Trail, I went for the Tall Oaks Trail, which is 3.2 miles and blazed in yellow. I entered the Trailhead by the campground and amphitheater. I found it more interesting and challenging than the Redbud Trail. There are more rocks and climbing and switchbacks. At one point, you come out of the wooded trail into a meadow with high grasses/shrubs. You walk a grass path for a short time, then back into woods. There was an interesting dry, wide creek bed that you descended into from the trail, and it was fun to follow that for a short bit before returning up to the trail. Near the end, I got a little confused and couldn't locate any blazes, then found several options of paths to follow along the lake or climbing back up again. I ended up popping off the trail at another Trailhead (by a playground) and following the Park road back to my car. I enjoyed this trail.
I hiked the 1.75-mile Redbud Trail. It's blazed in orange and easy to follow. I entered the Trailhead directly across the street from the tennis courts (you can park there). There is a quick ascent to the top of a ravine, and you come down gradually. There was interesting variety in the scenery. I consider it moderate difficulty, mainly due to the short climbing. At one point, you have the choice to continue up to complete the loop or follow a connector trail (marked with black numbers on white blazes), which basically bisects the trail. I followed the full loop around. Nice experience, I would return.
Just a great place to spend the day. They have three or four loops. One is only 2 miles long. Not real difficult or steep climbs but does have varying terrain. Picnic areas, lake for fishing or swimming, camping, and even tennis courts. We enjoyed the day.