Clifty Creek Natural Area Trail

MODERATE 133 reviews

Clifty Creek Natural Area Trail is a 2.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Dixon, Missouri that features a river 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: 2.7 miles Elevation Gain: 400 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly



nature trips

trail running


bird watching




wild flowers



Clifty Creek trail is a 2.5 loop trail with the primary attraction being a natural bridge with a span of forty ft. Enroute to the natural bridge you pass through old growth Hickory and Oak timber, limestone Ozark glades, and cliffs overlooking Clifty Creek and you cross the creek twice. A very scenic 2.5 mile loop hiking trail leads from the conservation area parking lot to the natural bridge and back. A hiker can choose to take the loop, or can choose to go and come from the arch via the same trail portion. The trail has an intersection one-tenth of a mile from the parking lot. The right fork in the trail is an additional one mile to the arch; if you choose the left fork the arch is 1.4 miles away - one way. Both forks are very scenic and traverse some very interesting natural features.

27 days ago

We did this hike with our 3.5 year old and 7 month old baby. It was gorgeous and we loved stopping by the creek points. The hike itself was intense while carrying a baby in a pack but I felt great once we were done :) The water was crystal clear and the hike itself was beautiful. Next time I want to try wearing water shoes and just walking the creek to the bridge.

1 month ago

Very good trail.

1 month ago

Very enjoyable scenic trail. Would go hiking there again.

Highly recommend. With a quick pace and occasional jogging I finished in an hour. A little muddy at parts and you have to cross the creek but you have rocks to utilize. As always in Missouri, watch for snakes and check for ticks.

1 month ago

Scenic, easy to follow, loop trail that takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Can be muddy with the spring rain. Completing the full 2.7 mile loop will require getting wet, so wear appropriate shoes. Really pretty in the spring with lots of wildflowers and dogwood and redbud trees. Be aware of snakes. I really love this trail. It is a true hidden gem!

3 months ago

Had a great time on this mostly easy slightly moderate trail. the only moderate part would be crossing the river without getting your feet wet, which was fun. my wife sister and 4yr old daughter went with and had a great time. a few parts of the trail were muddy from small seeps coming out of the hillside.

3 months ago

This was a great trail, that was worth the drive from Jefferson City! I went mid March, it was a little bit muddy. Creeks were a bit high so I had to take socks and shoes off to cross them. Would recommend bringing a pair of flip-flops or sandals! You come up on the natural Bridge and a small, beautiful trickling water fall. You hear the creek almost the whole time your hiking! I think this would also be beautiful in the spring or fall. My dog had a blast playing in the sand and the beautiful clear water. On the drive there, GPS took me down a Marie’s county road which kind of felt like a trail, narrow and winding! I would recommend staying on the major blacktop roadway. Hope to come back and visit again.

4 months ago

If you could have this place to yourself, it would be awesome. Pretty canyon and streams. The natural bridge is really nice.

4 months ago

Enjoyed the natural bridge feature and taking photos as I hiked.

5 months ago

LOVED IT. Actually it was too short. You do have to cross the creek twice but, plenty of rocks and I didnt even get wet. The arch is beautiful. Trail was a little rocky in spots but nothing too hard.

8 months ago

Beautiful and challenging. Not blazed. 2 creek crossings.

11 months ago

This is a well kept secret so there are no crowds. Trails can be slippery when wet and sturdy shoes are recommended. I like doing this hike in the early spring when the snow melt fills the clear creek. Great place for a family picnic along the creek at the arch. If you have time the loop is scenic. Also a good place to bring your canine partner.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Good quick trip in the woods. Gets the heart beating with elevation changes. Well marked and easy to follow

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My mother played at the natural bridge as a young child and I went to photograph it to give her a childhood reminder. I took a right at the fork and it was a beautiful hike. I do believe it was more than the advertised mile. The bridge is spectacular!!! I got to the parking lot a little after daybreak (a bit late for me) and was at the bridge by 6:30am. I could not find the path to the top so that is for a different time. Didn't want to hike the trail back so I walked the creek to a point where I could get back on the path quite a way back. This place is gorgeous and I love what has been created for our enjoyment!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Clifty Creek Conservation Area is a stop on the Great Missouri Birding Trail and it is definitely a "birdy" trail, although you will have to mostly bird by ear during the summer. The trail mostly follows ridges and overlooks the creek below and the valley the creek flows through. The trail crosses the creek twice so be prepared to get your feet wet. The natural arch is spectacular. If you go through the arch there is another side trail on the left that will allow you to climb to the top of the arch. A recent thunderstorm had dropped a few large branches and trees on the trail but you can get around them easily.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

A beautiful trail. A bit challenging with small kids, but still able to go. My family will be back!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

This is an awesome hike! My wife and I were the only people on the trail, and we even crossed the creek after a few days of rain without issue. I recommend this to anybody looking to stretch their legs and escape the surrounding area for a short time.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Awesome hike. The land bridge makes this well worth it, but hiking along the low river was also nice. There would be difficult areas to cross the river after heavy rainfall, but this is an exemplary short hike.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Beautiful hike!! Love it, go out every couple months:)

Monday, October 09, 2017

This has to be my favorite hike in surrounding areas. Well maintained. Great on hot summer days for a cool dip. Make sure you go when the land is still receiving rain. If you go in August, chances are the land will be dry and there will be no swimming hole.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Well maintained trail, clearly marked and a pleasant hike.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pleasant hike. Well marked and clear trail.

Monday, March 20, 2017

We hiked this trail in late March. The weather was ideal and the trail was very scenic. The river was a great feature to walk alongside for the majority of the hike. In some parts you could even hear the babbling brooks. I would say that the hike was just as advertised (moderate). The hike was just long enough without being too much. The natural rock arch was beautiful. There were many different varieties of trees to view and the inclines were never too difficult. It took us nearly 2.5 hrs. to complete. We stopped for some photos and leisurely walked on some parts. I would definitely go again and would highly recommend. This trail was one of our favorites out of many in that area of Missouri.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I've hiked this trail 3 times and I love it. It's an awesome trail.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Clifty Creek Conservation Area is a great place to take in an enjoyable, moderate hike that winds through a nice variety of Missouri terrain and geographical features. I've always found the trail to be well-marked and well-maintained. On nice weekend days, expect to encounter plenty of other hikers using the trail and expect that the rather small parking lot might be full. Go mid-week and you'll likely have the place all to yourself.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Great trail! Very well marked! Beautiful area.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

We went in the late Fall when the trees had lost all of their leaves and the trail was completely covered making it hard to follow the trail. It would be nice if the trail was marked a little better, but the rock bridge was definitely worth it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A great trail with two creek crossings! A natural stone arch is the highlight of the hike! Could be just a tad better marked but still some beautiful countryside to enjoy!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

It was an exceptionally warm Christmas Day hike and most enjoyable. It was warm enough that we encountered a painted box turtle on the trail. I give this place high marks. Beautiful scenery and a very nice trail. I was impressed with the moss and Christmas ferns growing on the trail cuts. Rocks in the creek bed were beautiful and interesting. Sandstone and banded chert were pretty. The natural bridge was great. I gave it five stars.

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