Big Piney Trail

MODERATE 59 reviews
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Big Piney Trail is a 17.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Plato, Missouri that features a waterfall 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
3717 feet

dogs on leash






mountain biking

nature trips

trail running


horseback riding





wild flowers





old growth

over grown


Paddy Creek Trail is a rugged 17 miles through typical Ozark forest of hardwoods and pines with rocky outcroppings, and with seasonal waterfalls. It has several creek crossings over Paddy creek and several scenic bluffs overlooking the Big Piney River. Considered one of the best trails in the state.

22 days ago

27 days ago

Fun trail. Not too much elevation change. Very nice campsite on top of bluff about 9 miles in. Water sources along the way. Nice waterfall towards the end. Only down side, heavily trafficked by horses. Parts of trail are beat up and watch for horse poop. Will definitely backpack again!

1 month ago

1 month ago

2 months ago

Hiked 3/24/17
I only hiked a small part of this trail, but I did pass through the area where alot of pines had fallen as mentioned in a previous review and the trail has been cleared for easy passage through there.
I plan to hike the entire loop asap and will update my review after that.

2 months ago

Fantastic trail adventures are sure to be had here. Four of us started at the Roby Lake trailhead, hiking counter-clockwise. We hiked to the campground at the northend and settled in just before a biblical storm. I missed the storm completely, snoozing away in my hammock, after taking some "vitamin I -- p.m."

Day 2 we hiked to the overlook on the S. loop, made camp, and lounged around for the next 20 hrs. We ended up sharing our campsite on the overlook with some Missouri Militiamen. They seemed nice enough though.

Day 3 we hiked the 2 miles back to the vehicles.

As others have mentioned, blazes are all but nonexistent. There has been an improvement in signage delineating the route--but at some intersections their odd placement could easily confuse a non-attentive hiker. The pink ribbons along the route also can add to the confusion. I would suggest bringing a hi-res topo map and compass. On two occasions the map "saved us", when the GPS's location had us in the Big Paddy while we were on a ridge.

My first trip out there we fell prey to an established game trail, and ended up doing a little bushwhacking.

ALWAYS check to see when hunting seasons are in effect. It is the Ozarks--Beware of banjos.

Slideshow from our 2013 trip:

2 months ago

3 months ago

Great time backpacking for the first time. Multiple cutoffs and side trails that are not on the map. We did a few extra miles and hills. We'll be back again.

3 months ago

3 months ago

3 months ago

Decent trail. Some parts don't seem as clear as others and isn't very clearly marked in certain sections. Would recommend this trail and I'm going back to do it this spring.

3 months ago

Really nice area!! I wasn't expecting so much elevation change, but it made for some beautiful overlooks! I hiked from Roby lake, counterclockwise down the South Trail to Paddy Creek Campground, and then back to the car on the North Trail. I done it in a day, but I started at daylight and didn't jack around much.

4 months ago

Beautiful!!!! Do your prep for this one. Novice beware! Lot's of opportunities to get it wrong here without adequate gear and experience. Camped at Lil Paddy Creek where it joins with Big Piney River...awesome site. Challenging terrain, plentiful water...worth the drive for sure.

5 months ago

I hiked 2.5 miles of this trail on 01/18/2017 from the Roby Lake Trail Head, to the junction of the North Loop and South Loop. I took the South Loop route (counterclockwise). The first pine grove you come to was a disaster with more than 60 trees down making the trail impassable, probably from recent freezing rain or winds. Bushwhacking was required to get around it all, multiple times. The trail register showed no other hikers in the last 12 days so not a lot of use this time of year. Made my way atop a ridge and camped for the night in heavy fog. Left in the morning so cannot speak to trail conditions the rest of the way. District ranger office was notified, the first time I have had to notify anyone of such bad trail conditions, the rest of the trail that I was on was fine with just the occasional downed tree.

6 months ago

I hiked this trail in the fall and while it opened up the view it also dropped leaves on the trail which isn't marked with blazes and can at times be hard to follow. I printed a map on line and still ended up taking a small detour. Without the map I have no doubt there would have been many more. There are other trails and paths that cross this one and without a reference losing the right trail could be easy. Also water sources are few and far between. I carried 3 quarts and a filter on this trail and got by fine, though the tempatures were mild. With that said this was a beautiful trail and I really enjoyed it even with the extra mile I accidentally added to it.

7 months ago

The trail was moderate. Had a great time. The trail at the eastern end is not well marked. Need to pay attention when getting ready to turn around at that point. Water is much more scarce in the fall. Suggest to back in what you need, except when next to Big Piney Creek. Definitely would do the hike again.

9 months 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.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

awesome trail with some beautiful scenery. could use a few signs at some of the intersection.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

poorly marked intersections, ended up doing a figure 8 between both small loop and large. amazing views and plenty of campsites. the water crossings were all under 8 inch deep water.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Have to pay attention to walk this one, quite a few unmarked intersections. There are some good views on the eastern end, water to filter throughout.