Swan Creek Wilderness Area Trail

MODERATE 11 reviews
#11 of 50 trails in

Swan Creek Wilderness Area Trail is a 8.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Garrison, 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.

8.8 miles
905 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running







wild flowers





old growth

over grown



washed out

Swan Creek is an 8,488 acre area that provides for year-round nonmotorized dispersed recreation use as it is a designated Semi-Primitive Nonmotorized (SPNM) Area. There are approximately 20 miles of moderately used riding, hiking, and mountain bike trails available. Swan Creek itself offers swimming, fishing, and a non-potable water supply

2 months ago

2 months ago

There are several more trails in this area than shown here in the Swan Creek Wilderness Area - approx. 20 miles.
LInk to map of all trails here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd516654.pdf
I followed trail #6107 which I believe is the trail shown here from the east trailhead off UU Hwy to the creek and back which took me approx. 4 hrs. I didn't have any issues finding my way and found plenty of trail markers along the way.
As others have noted, a lot of trash in the parking area. I was bored on my hike back and decided to make a game of counting the pieces of trash (mostly beer cans) seen from the trail - 134 :)
Of course this doesn't include all that is laying in the parking lot. I don't know how anyone can get lost on these trails as long as you follow the beer cans :)
There is a larger parking area on the west end off Hwy 125 at the Bar K Wrangler Camp but you may have to tread some water to cross the creek to get access to the trails depending on water levels.

3 months ago

There was some trash at the trail head. Mostly beer cans and probley from kids using this as a party spot, but it cleared up down the trail. Great place for hiking with some up hills, down hills, and several flat areas. I thought the trail was worn well enough and didn't have too much trouble seeing the trail. There a couple of times I kind of lost the trail, but it's fairly obvious where the trail is at. Very few trail markers along the way, but I got to Swan Creek with no problem. The trail is a doosey (fairly steep) on the way back so be ready. Overall it was really pretty and really remote. I would recommend this trail, but give yourself about 5 hours to get to the creek and back.

horseback riding
9 months ago

I take issue with the man who stated horseriders left trash and cans ... more likely towners that deface our trails and camps...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Repost: My first review disappeared.

If you're hiking or backpacking forget about this place. Trails are not blazed or maintained and are in terrible condition. If you're lucky enough to stumble across a blaze it's so old and faded that you can't read it.

Another major problem is that there are so many offshoot, dead end, and cut-through trails that aren't mapped or marked that you will easily get off trail and lost. There are points where the trail simply disappears and you can't see any evidence where it picks back up. Even with a trail map and compass we got off trail and lost numerous times. Thank goodness for GPS!

Finally, the trash from horseback riders is ridiculous. Beer cans and water bottles everywhere. There is a definite lack of respect for the trail. "Leave No Trace" seems to have no meaning here, even with signs at the trail head reminding you to "Pack It In - Pack It Out".

horseback riding
Monday, February 20, 2017

Great place to ride a horse

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The directions on the app lead you to what I can only assume is some kind of service road. The actual trailhead is off of Hwy 125. Even once you get there, however, the trail markings are basically non-existent. There was one sign at the trailhead, I followed the trail in about a hundred feet to the creek & that was it. I will say the 2 hours driving I wasted were very scenic & this looks like a really pretty area if you want to bushwhack it.

paddle sports
Friday, September 26, 2014

I float swan creek after locally heavy rains from Garson to shadow rock park. This creek produces large standing waves that keep getting bigger as the creek rises instead of washing out. Bring your life jacket ! It's a great ride.

horseback riding
5 months ago

horseback riding
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday, March 30, 2014