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Cedar Creek Trail System is a 9.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Columbia, Missouri that features a lake 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.

Distance: 9.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1,089 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

Cedar Creek Trail meanders through the oak hickory forests and tall grass prairies of central Missouri. The Cedar Creek Trail system consists of four trails; a printable brochure can be downloaded through Mark Twain National Forest website. The Southern Loop marked in grey diamonds, crosses 22 miles of pastoral countryside. Two-thirds of the trail is cross-country; the rest is along gravel roads. Smith Creek Loop, about 5 miles in length between Boydsville and Rutherford Bridge, is marked in orange diamonds. This scenic route provides glimpses of Cedar Creek from the bluffs above. Pine Ridge Section, marked with grey diamonds, passes through Pine Ridge Recreation Area and is open to foot travel and mountain bikes only; no horses. A horse route is located to the west. Moon Loop, marked with Yellow diamonds, is about 7 miles in length. It is named for the moon-like appearance of the area caused by soil erosion in the 1930s. The area has since been restored. ***No horses on the Pine Ridge Section.***

hiking
muddy
1 month ago

The trail was pretty with a very nice creek, however the terrain was not so pretty. Heavily trafficked with horse shoes making it difficult to walk and creating a difficult setting to enjoy hiking without rolling an ankle.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
over grown
2 months ago

Trail was heavily pitted with horse hoof prints making hiking difficult and dangerous. Consistent blowdown that took you off the trail throughout. If you are going by horse, it’s a pretty trail but by foot it’s tough terrain.

hiking
blowdown
over grown
5 months ago

I wanted to like this trail but the horses have chopped it up so badly that without high top boots it would be a miracle to not sprain and ankle as I nearly did about every 20ft. Definitely bring a machete as the thorns and many trees are growing across the trail and I didn’t have the equipment to clean it up as I went. I might try it again eventually but with no one to maintain it properly it will soon be unusable.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike for kids to see the Fall colors. Take the dog too, they'll enjoy it very much! Trails are well marked and currently dry. The loops can be divided up shorter if the little ones get a bit tired.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
7 months ago

This trail has some breathtaking views but you do work for them. It’s overgrown in parts & easy to get off trail in other parts. A great trail if you have all day but go prepared.

hiking
bugs
over grown
8 months ago

Very much overgrown. Did my fair share of bushwhacking with too many arachnids to count all over me. However I never lost the trail. The fields could especially be better marked. I did some dispersed camping. Only one suitable campsite that I passed on Moon loop. Muddy in some places but none of the streams were flowing. Didn’t finish the loop, broke off and took the gravel roads back to my car. Partly because I just wasn’t having fun, and also because I had no water source to replenish my water. Probably won’t venture out this way again. Maybe the more trafficked areas are not as overgrown

hiking
10 months ago

backpacked, my first. horses made part of the trail rough, overpacking and adown pour made the rest fun.

hiking
Tue Mar 05 2019

Some parts of this trail are really nice and other parts are terrible. Maintenance is practically nonexistent. This could be a gem in the state if Maintained better. Yet, that likely won't happen as it takes money and workers.

recorded Crappy mud trail and gravel road

hiking
muddy
Sun Feb 03 2019

Mon Jan 07 2019

I give this trail a five because one section of it is outstanding. Overall it is a 3.5 because of poor trail marking ,erosion, roughness, and deep ruts caused by horses. To get to the really nice section start at the church at the south entry point and head north, down into the valley. After you cross the small creek (probably dry in summer), continue 50 yards or so and look to your left for a inconspicuous trail headed down the creek (towards the west). A tree was marked with surveyors tape at the entry point. Follow this trail all the way to Cedar Creek. I think you will enjoy. Not as many horse ruts and the stream and moss covered boulders and bluffs are beautiful.

backpacking
Sun Dec 16 2018

Great views, poorly marked trail and deep horse ruts. Great camping spots.

hiking
Thu Oct 18 2018

Good hike, not overly scenic, but typical of area. Couple bluff views, some water crossings. backpacker camps exist along trail.

hiking
Thu Jul 26 2018

I walked <2 miles on the Moon Loop and got 11 ticks on my clothes. Trailhead off the Ginn Lane was a bit hidden. On the bright side, the sunrise and scenery were beautiful!

backpacking
Sat Apr 21 2018

Very rugged terrain. There are several areas of the trail that have deep horse ruts. It would probably be impassable if it was muddy. Trails were somewhat marked. Lots of hills. Cross over several creeks, or the same creek several times. Camped alone a portion of Smith Creek. Saw a few other campsites along the way. Good for a one-nighter close to home. Will probably go back and explore the area again and spend another night. Decent stay.

Sun Apr 08 2018

Nice area but not an easy walk by any means due to horse ruts

hiking
Wed Jul 26 2017

Hiking was a challenge at times only due to poor trail markers. Good cliff views and camping spots.

hiking
Wed Mar 01 2017

Not really a review, more of a question....interested in doing this trail, but don't want to if it's too rough from the horses. Any recent feedback on this?

horseback riding
Thu Oct 13 2016

love horseback riding out here, just wish the forestry department would make areas to cut through the woods to avoid the boggy areas. I know there are some deep areas that have been torn up by fellow riders... but please jeep in mind, a lot of the time there is no way for horses to avoid some of the boggy areas. No horse enjoys going through knee deep mud.... & boggy areas stay wet for several weeks when other areas are dry.

Sun Mar 27 2016

I agree with the other reviewers. The trail (Smith Creek Loop) is terrible due people riding their horses when the ground is wet. A lot of the time we had to walk in the woods beside the trails so we wouldn't twist our ankles or step in the deep holes they left. The views on top of the bluffs are beautiful and there some great spots to stop and camp.

hiking
Sun Dec 13 2015

Have hiked several of the trails in Cedar Creek system. This time started at Dry Fork. New maps are at trail heads but trails are pretty well marked. The only drawback is that horse and riders have destroyed much of the trail in the whole system. There are huge wash outs and riders keep using the trail while wet which causes the trail to be a sloppy mess.

horseback riding
Thu Jun 04 2015

If you want adventure, this trail is for you. Dad and I rode horses through the South loop--the 22 mile southern part. Pros: Epically tough. Huge washouts, rickety bridges, fields of longhorn cattle, barbwire, 60 degree inclines, huge boulders, several river crossings--you name it, it was there. Amazing Missouri scenery--both old growth forests, winding prairies, and sloping hills. In one day we made great memories that will last a lifetime. Cons: So tough it is not really great for either mountain biking or horseback riding. It is not very well maintained, and there is a very good chance that you can get lost due to lack of markers. Definitly worth doing if you want adventure.

hiking
Mon Mar 30 2015

I read the other reviews before heading out, I couldn't find a good map online (which I finally found today, after the hike) so I just went off of the tracks on here and it happened to be the Moon Loop. First I must say that when my non-hiking friends hear me say "I'm going hiking!" this trail must be what they imagine LOL. It's pretty, I can imagine it much more lush in the late spring or fall though. I have uploaded pictures and will probably post a few more. This trail was just a tiny bit longer than it stated... close to six miles is a good gauge. I found it marked fairly well, starting out from Ginn Ln. (park right before the creek crossing on the left-it's not marked from the road) and heading south (right to take the loop at the top of the hill). The first mile or so wasn't too terrible. I imagine the thorns would be overgrown in the summer months. I should start out by saying about 90% of this trail is well marked, only one part I got knocked off of the trail because a very large tree is down (go to the right lol I had to wander over to the right after I passed the tree to get back on track). Much of the trail is pretty rough due to equestrian use. I'd say probably 60% of the trail was muddy which made the horse tracks worse. I straddled or went next to much of the trail due to this. There are two actual creek crossings on this loop (a hand full of small stream crossings that weren't a big deal). There are rocks to cross but your feet may get a little wet in the process, no biggie to me. The last mile before you enter the field is somewhat mundane... lots and lots of pine trees surrounding the trail, and tall grass. Then came the mud! It wasn't a bad experience. It's not traveled very much but it was, overall, a fun experience. I could see myself coming back in the fall but with the fair amount of foliage that's there now late spring would probably be better. The link I supplied is for the map of the trails in the area.

hiking
Thu Jun 19 2014

For a Missouri trail, this is a nice one. Pretty diversified trail. Some sections follow bluffs while other areas follow the creek bed. The downside is that parts of the trail go on the dirt roads. But, it is still worth the hike if you are in the area.

hiking
Fri Jun 28 2013

Over the years, I have hiked most of the Cedar Creek trails and have volunteered with the Forest Service for trail clean up. Cedar Creek has some great hiking in many areas. However, heavy use by horses keeps the trail very rough and prone to erosion. Mountain biking is also very difficult due to the rough trail.

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