Heavily forested hillsides, clear-flowing streams and solitude are all features to be found within Big Sugar Creek State Park. Nestled deep within southwest Missouri, Big Sugar Creek State Park preserves a portion of the Elk River Section of Missouri's Ozarks. This area of the state has a distinct natural history, featuring many plants and animals that are less common or absent in other areas of Missouri. Some typify the southern plains, including armadillos, while others, like the Ozark chinquapin tree, are restricted to the Ozark highlands. The Elk River watershed, which includes Big Sugar Creek, is a portion of the Arkansas River Basin that extends into Missouri. It brings with it a unique fish population, including the Neosho orangethroat darter. Because of the park's natural significance, 1,613 of its 2,082 acres have been designated as the Elk River Breaks Natural Area. Ozark Chinquapin Trail, a three-mile loop trail through the natural area, follows a small bedrock stream, between towering hills, before heading up into the upland woodlands and glades. Big Sugar Creek State Park is still in the development stage. Future amenities planned include a day-use area, a special-use camping area that will be available for use by organized youth groups and a canoe launch.

We hiked this trail with a 6 year old and it was great for all of is! Most creek crossings were dry or more puddle-like. It was a beautiful trail and can only be prettier in warmer months!

2 months ago

We had a blast on this trail. It was very scenic and well marked. Be prepared for wet feet because the trail meanders around a couple of spring creeks. The rock formations and cliff overhangs were awesome. We would highly recommend this trail to anyone with an interest in nature. Many wildflowers and dogwood trees in bloom. 4/2018

Beautiful!! I walked this trail February 2018. Caves, waterfalls, bluffs, well marked trail. I would recommend sturdy shoes or hiking boots and there are multiple creek crossings. It's hard to miss the bluffs regardless of the direction you start the loop from.

Beautiful area and trail. Pay attention to the flora as you hike the trail. Awesome to see how it changes due to elevation differences.

6 months ago

Nice winter hike on well maintained trail. Hikes along Creek with some
Nice rock bluffs. We hiked counterclockwise which gave us the best sights at the end. Lots of icicles on this winter day.

Nice trail, some trees down across, but not too bad. Really nice rock formations on the west side of the hill. Very fun trail.

10 months ago

Hiked this on Labor Day afternoon. No water in creek on either side of the loop, I believe this would be a beautiful hike when the streams are running, but multiple crossings would be necessary.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I hiked this trail on Memorial Day, 2017. I loved it because of the creek. Be prepared to get wet because you will cross the creek about 10 times. It's clearly marked where I hiked but I didn't follow the loop for two reasons: 1) a large tree was down and crossed the trail and I couldn't tell if trail continued; 2) I did this hike on a day when I just got out to get out and did not have tick spray with me. There are a lot of grass/shrub/forbe areas so I ended up with a lot of ticks on me. The creek helped me rinse off the ticks on my way back to the trailhead. I work with streams and wetlands so I enjoyed this beautiful creek. There are a lot of bedrock regions in the creek with many stepfalls. The water is cool to cold and clear. Serene. The creek makes this hike one of my favorite so far. I only encountered one family and two couples on the trail. It was private which is a plus.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Nice trail. Took about 1hr 30 minutes for the 3.5 miles. Trails are marked and well kept.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Nice family hike

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My son and I made this trip today and it was very enjoyable. The terrain was pretty easy. The path was clearly marked. The trail crossed the creek back and forth all along the trail. There were a few tricky spots that would be more difficult if the creek was up. Overall a fantastic hike!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trail was in good shape. You follow the streams which were dry in most places. I would like to go back when the streams are running. A good hike for dogs!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Easy trial to follow. Would definitely do again

Monday, November 07, 2016

Our visit was on a drizzly Monday in November, and the gloomy weather didn't spoil this trail one bit. The creek bed, rock formations and bluffs, and varied vegetation make this trail a "must." I feel like a visit in winter might reveal some neat small waterfalls and cascades if the creek fills up.

The trail gets a little hard to find at one point, but the dog knew right where he was going. Other than that one spot, the yellow blazes make this a very easy trail to follow. There are restrooms at the trailhead, and the ranger was cleaning them when we arrived - thank you!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

loved how secluded it felt. peaceful trail.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Really secluded trial. The trial is very narrow with foliage over it at parts. It also zig zags across the creek bed. Definitely be aware of ticks. Good trail for some peace and to break a sweat!

Monday, June 20, 2016

I would recommend taking the loop to the right going counterclockwise which will give you the least uphill climb. however, the left side is my personal favorite side I would recommend checking out if you do not plan on finishing the entire loop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

fun little hike when you want something nice and fairly easy. Expect encounters with ticks, so bring bug spray.

on Chinquapin Trail

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I was blown away by this trail. it was harder and easier that I thought all at the same time. Beautiful and secluded. I would be nervous taking children(especially younger) the full length, especially the back half, due to rugged terrain and drop offs. There are many, many areas where you have to pay attention while walking. Make sure you load up on the tick repellant and sunscreen and you're good to go!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

you will cross water be prepared!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Awesome little loop trail. A little creek follows most of the trail and must be crossed several times. The creek was low and easy to cross but had enough water to provide small water falls, crystal clear pools, and the sounds of running and falling water. The nature and scenery are quite diverse and include features such as moss covered trails, fern covered hillsides, solid rock creek bed, lots of rock outcrops and small bluff lines. It's an easy trail and would be a great one for families. I plan to go back in the spring.

on Chinquapin Trail

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Nice day hike on an easy trail. Very quiet & peaceful on a warm December day. I've hiked the trail 3 times in the past 5 days. Nice place to get away and think and see some beautiful rock formations and bluffs. I'm an avid barefoot hiker and it gets pretty rocky in some places but it is a nice trail to hike barefoot...just have some shoes handy just in case. Next time I'll take my hammock and string it up and just enjoy the silence. Can't wait to see what it looks like in the Spring.

Friday, October 02, 2015

This is a fun little trail for somebody just looking to be out in the woods. There's nothing too dramatic as far as scenery goes, still worth checking out.

The best part is at the east end of a loop you will come to a clearing. Keep looking to your right, there is a old piece of farm equipment that a tree has nearly engulfed over time. It's pretty incredible to see.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

My family and I loved this trail. The kids had a blast with all of the stream crossings, and my wife and I enjoyed the many photogenic moments that came about from the beautiful wild flowers and the bedrock streams.
The trail was a bit over grown, and the warm day made it plenty buggy, so we checked for ticks a couple of times just to be sure.
We saw a deer, or maybe an elk, as it ran away (whatever it was, it was big). We also had a snake cross our path, which gave the kids a good scare.
All in all, it was fun trail. It can be narrow at times, and runs close to some cliffs, but it was a good hike and a great day trip for the family.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Not paved. Hard to find.

Good for hyper dogs as not crowded at all. Nice scenery. Some uphill. Nice little stream.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Once we found the place, it was a great hike. Different types of terrain making it interesting and fun. Love the little yellow square tags on the trees. Gave us a sense of security knowing we were still following the trail. 60 degree weather in December made it a great day to hike.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Good for exercise and getting away from people. It is nothing terribly exciting though. The left side of the loop is the scenic part as it follows a larger creek bed and has some pretty rock formations and bluffs. Looked to be some little caves up the hill too. It is rocky. Bigger, unstable rocks.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Decent hike, short, scenic, and not technical at all. We brought the whole family... 6 month old, 2 year old, 5 year old and a teenager. Trails are well marked, a little narrow in a few spots, but nothing the troop couldn't handle on their own.
My only recommendation ... bug spray, seed ticks are abundant!

Friday, September 26, 2014

This is an absolutely gorgeous trail and definitely one of my favorites. I would suggest going when the weather's been dry because you cross the riverbed many times. It is somewhat difficult and narrow at points, but it's worth it. There's also an option for a shorter trail which is nice if you don't want to do the whole thing. I would definitely recommend this trail.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Completed this trail this morning. Getting there was the first adventure. If you want the scenic route, search for Big Sugar Creek State Park and let the GPS guide the way. If you're looking to hit the TH, you'll need to head to the south side of the park on Big Sugar Creek Rd.

My wife and I chose to head NE with our Chocolate Lab and make the 3.1m loop. The trail was well marked (Blazed in Yellow). A couple of the markers had QR codes that peaked my interest. I took a picture of one and I'm hoping I can read it in after I get a QR Reader installed.

The dog had plenty of places for him to cool off as it rained earlier in the week. With a bunch of rain, be prepared for several water crossings and possible flash flooding. At one point, the dog decided to play "Evil Knievel" and jumped towards the water, only to find it was a little farther drop than he thought. He decided to slide the rest of the way down and quickly realized he couldn't get back up. We had to run down the trail a bit to show him a better path out but other than that no issues. Ironically, he didn't stray too far the rest of our trip.

Overall, it took about 90 minutes to complete. Our major complaint of the day, seed ticks everywhere. We spent a considerable amount of time pulling them off us and the dog at the TH and back home.

Some have made references to being a family friendly location. I would say an extremely well behaved child would have no issues but there are plenty of locations where the trail is only a single person wide and has 3-8ft. drops, usually to the creek. While I can't speak for all children, I would say an average 10-12 year old would have no issues, but would be concerned bringing a child smaller than that.

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