Looking for a great trail in Prairie State Park, Missouri? AllTrails has 5 great hiking trails, kid friendly trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Just looking to take a quick stroll? We've got 5 easy trails in Prairie State Park ranging from 1.4 to 5.5 miles and from 862 to 980 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

hiking

kid friendly

views

wild flowers

Experience a walk through prairie grasses that tower above your head with a chance to view bison and elk. Tallgrass prairie once covered more than a third of Missouris landscape. Today less than 1 percent remains. Prairie State Park, at nearly 4,000 acres, preserves Missouris largest remaining tallgrass prairie. The spectacular panoramic vista of Prairie State Park is a sea of grass strewn with the colors of ever-changing wildflowers. In spring, bouquets of yellow-star grass and Indian paintbrush set the stage for the courtship dance of the prairie chicken. Growing taller each day, summer wildflowers include pale purple coneflower, Meads milkweed and prairie blazing star. By fall, grasses such as big bluestem and Indian grass may reach 8 feet high. Enjoy the beauty and solitude of the prairie by hiking one of the parks five trails, which offer excellent opportunities for bird watching, photography and viewing wildlife and wildflowers. Check on the location of bison and elk at the visitor center before hiking. Prairie State Parks visitor center is designed to enhance the visitors prairie experience with nature programs, interpretive displays and hands-on exhibits. Visitors may wish to extend the prairie experience by using the picnic area, small campground or primitive backpack camp.

hiking
12 days ago

Gentle hike... wild flowers were is bloom and as the trail name suggests... the gayfeathers were everywhere and just gorgeous! Saw lots of wildlife while hiking just before sunset. The deer were everywhere and birds thick... bison were just over the crest off the path and as it was late, we didn't hike off the path but we did encounter a young bull along the main road just in front of the trail head. Lots of butterflies and dragon flies... the trail itself is kept neat and mowed for easy walk but watch your step as the bison use it too...smile.

hiking
muddy
6 months ago

The trailhead for this trail has moved and is about two miles to the east on 130 Lane and not at the visitor’s center. The start for my recording shows where the new trailhead is located. The trail is now 4.25 miles and, for the most part, is a mowed path through the prairie that is easy to follow, although we did wind up following a road that intersected the trail and had to cut back to the trail through the prairie. There were several small wet weather stream crossings and the trail was very muddy. There is a part of the trail that passes by a creek that has several neat looking sandstone formations and I’m guessing the reason for its name. The coolest thing we saw were over a dozen Northern Harriers that we spooked as we were finishing the trail just after dusk, including five that took flight from the same location. They were evidently bedded down for the night and took off as we got too close.

hiking
6 months ago

This trail starts at the visitor’s center, which is worth a visit as it has some nice exhibits and friendly staff. This is probably one of the better trails to see the bison as it passes through the prairie along a ridge and you can see for a couple of miles across the prairie. We could see a couple herds in the distance and later saw one loan bison grazing about 100 yards off the trail across a creek on the north side of the loop. Turn left at the electric fence if you want to stay on the trail.

hiking
muddy
6 months ago

Fun hike! Cold but worth it! Buffalo and deer galore!

This trail is across the road from the fenced enclosure where the bison live. We didn’t see much else in the way of wildlife other than some deer in the distance. I plan on hiking it again in the spring when the wildflowers start to bloom.

hiking
7 months ago

Extra star for a great view of the bison from the trees surrounding a pond on the left portion of the loop that is about 0.2 miles from the trailhead. The bison were in a herd in a small valley that we couldn’t see from the trailhead. I can’t wait to rehike this trail during the spring.

hiking
8 months ago

This trail has been extended to 2.5 miles since it was added on this app. The first half of the trail is the same though. We spooked a covey of quail and a whitetail while walking the trail. We could just see the bison in the distance and were later able to watch them from the road leading to the visitor’s center. The visitor’s center is a nice place to visit with several educational exhibits. This park is a stop on the Great Missouri Birding Trail and birds were abundant.

like walking back in time, super peaceful and quiet, much of the hike you see nothing man made. if you need to decompress walk this trail. super nice park ranger @ the visitor center, she filled us in on some stuff.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

We went on Saturday. I expected it to be busy because it was a nice weekend. It was not. We did see the buffalo and they were not behind any fence. The trail was not marked real well, but it is prairie so you can't really get lost

hiking
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I came for the bison. I'm not a big fan of hiking in open prairies...I prefer wooded trails. But I was excited to try something new on a sunny but cold January day. The visitors center is a nice amenity, and I spoke with the nicest park staff there. She really helped me decide which trail(s) to do and how to enjoy the scenic views. After hiking about an hour, I saw the bison just on the other side of a fence that the park ranger told me not to cross. I watched the herd of about 12 bison for a while, then backed off a bit, then returned to watch them file out of their grazing area, passing through an open gate. They were quiet and calm; I never felt threatened. Really exciting experience! The trail itself has virtually no markings. If you are not super good with an internal compass, you will need a map and some tips from the park ranger. I really think they need some trail blazes. I saw only one at the very beginning of this trail--a painted stone set in the ground. You can't really get lost since it's open prairie, but I would like to have more way-finding available. The 4th star is for the bison and the wonderful park ranger.

on Drover's Trail

hiking
Sunday, August 06, 2017

Easy trail, I always love seeing the bison. The number of ticks this spring (2017) was ridiculous; even though saturated with repellent, my husband and I removed over 100 ticks on each of us during our trek across the plain! Because of this, we prefer this hike in the fall and winter. The staff at the visitor's center are always great, and the restrooms spotless.

hiking
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This is a great place to explore and see a variety of plant life. If you're into prairies then this is your best bet in the 4-state area, especially because you can also see bison grazing throughout the park. There are some areas with trees and hills that make the hike worth it. I thought it was a nice touch to have a trail on the other side of an electric fence. Just be sure to be careful and read directions if you're not familiar with it. The best part is the bison. Go check out the visitor center and see the location of the herd!

hiking
Sunday, May 15, 2016

It was a very boring drive from north Joplin to the trail, but it was a nice change to be on a trail that isn't interrupted by suburbia and crowded with people. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and we were the only people on the trail. The landscape was a little lacking, but it was my first time hiking through a prairie so, again, a big change. My husband thought it was "desolate" and "boring" because it is a loop trail through some pretty unentertaining terrain. I like getting away from the city, so the only thing that was a huge downer for me were the stretches of mud and ankle-deep water in some spots. I was not prepared for that. I probably won't do this trail again since I'm sure there are others close to the same distance that will be as enjoyable.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

stay on the blazes. I tried a short cut. fail. this was a good eventful hike. ran across a dying buffalo and marked the spot on my phone to report to the rangers. the gate way between fields was a buffalo wallow and made for a difficult muddy (over the knee deep) crossing.

hiking
Sunday, March 06, 2016

Be ready for bison. Got stuck between two herds and could not cross the path safely for a while, but that really is not common. Over all a good trail, flat with few creek crossings and watch for bison dong. But maps describing the trails are confusing.

camping
Monday, October 12, 2015

When you wake up on the small rise in a circle of twitchy prairie grass, you feel like you're the first person-- or maybe the last-- to see the sunrise. This is one of my favorite spots in SWMO. Stop by the visitor's center and check with the ranger to make sure you're out of the way of the bison before you set out. The trail is only a mile, but the view from the backpacking campsite is the best for miles. No roads, no soybean fields, no towns, no people, no street lights. A good place to get away for just a night.

walking
Monday, October 12, 2015

This trail is actually situated in the Lester R. Davis Memorial Forest right across the road from Prairie State Park. Mr. Davis planted the area, which had been devastated by strip mining, with plants, trees and shrubs from all over the place. As a result, forest is now densely forested with very non-native species. I'm not used to seeing tall pines in Missouri! The MDC has done some recent work in the area attempting to prevent strip pits from eroding the road. Last time I was here, I found some pieces of coal uncovered by the bulldozers. The forest still bears the scars of strip mining, and no amount of planting will ease the deep furrows between long piles of mining waste, but it's encouraging to know that Davis seized an opportunity to make a difference in SWMO.

hiking
Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prairie trails are a special hiking experience. personally I preffer winter or spring for best scenery. Anything but boring as most suppose for the spacious panorama's, for theever changing scenery and for the wildlife

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