Gans Creek Wild Area Trail is a 7.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Columbia, Missouri that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and horses and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The solitude and scenic vistas of the 750-acre Gans Creek Wild Area allow visitors to forget the bustling city of Columbia is only a few miles away. Small streams dissect the hills and flow into Gans Creek, which is surrounded by high bluffs. The bottom and sides of Gans Creek are often solid bedrock while other stretches of the stream have gravel bars. Except during heavy rain events, the water flows slowly over riffles and into pools. Spring wildflowers are abundant. Basswood and walnut trees grow on moist, shaded hillsides. Scattered white oaks grace more open forested area. The rocky bluff tops have small glade openings filled with grasses and wildflowers. Coyote and Shooting Star bluffs provide vistas of hills and trees as far as the eye can see.
Really enjoyed this trail. On a warm day in February there were many people others enjoying it also. I took my little dog and we did a loop that was about 5.5 miles. I felt like I was the only one enjoying myself as most people just ran past us. I was glad to see so many people out though. There are a few fun little creek crossings, and many nice overlooks to enjoy. I imagine spring and fall with make this a beautiful trail to take. I will probably consider doing it again someday.
The trail is not very well-maintained. Pretty overgrown so wear pants. But it's a nice short loop. A little unclear where you cross the creek but we figured it out and had a nice outing.
I run this trail very regularly. I disagree with it being easy. It's definitely not super rugged but it's challenging in a beautiful way.
This was a fun one. Glades, grassland, forest, and creek crossings. Good ol' Missouri bluffs. On our July hike, we encountered no one but a rabbit and some squirrels. Not even as buggy as we expected!
We found good maps at the Shooting Star Trailhead. Other reviewers are correct: few to no markings, so keep that map handy.
Beautiful views, lots of different terrain.
BRING A MAP- trail not clearly marked - not at all marked when crossing the river
Really beautiful views, but very poorly marked. At times the trail was pretty overgrown and hard to follow.