Explore the most popular birding trails near Columbia with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
7 days ago

Not exactly a walk through nature. trail goes through a neighborhood, along the road and past some storage facilities. did appreciate benches tho. overall not bad but I don't think it's one we will do again.

Nice nature trail that is a stop on the Great Missouri Birding Trail. The mapped version on the app is an abbreviated version of the trail, as the actual trail is 3 miles in length. The trail mostly passes through forest and along creeks and ridge lines above creeks. The last quarter mile of the trail follows a gravel road.

There are several creek crossings where you may get your feet wet. Some nice rock features and bluffs can be seen next to the creeks. The highlight of the trail was the varied number of wildflowers, which were beautiful.

Good trail. Not too challenging. Little overgrown in areas. Ticks were bad

Great family trail

Beautiful trail

backpacking
3 months ago

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.

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

The trail was well marked it you had a map to decide which direction to go when the trail split off. It had a few vistas overlooking steep drops to the creek below. Most of the trail was smooth without ankle turning rocks. Spent almost all your time in the woods. Would keep children close at hand while up on the ridges as some of the trail is only a three foot step to the valley below. The final hill coming out was a straight up climb.

hiking
3 months ago

Simple walk around a prairie.

hiking
3 months ago

The sink holes were fascinating. You were never out of the site of one. Nice loop from Conner's cave, around the hill top back to the cave.

Excellent three mile loop. Crosses stream 6 times. Very well laid out. Do clockwise. Backpack camping allowed.

walking
4 months ago

Very nice grassy prairie area with some variety of scenery including small pods, numerous trees, shrubs, and habitats. The trail is wide and easy. Very nice for a relaxing stroll. Peaceful are as this trail is a little ways alway from the hustle.

This has become one of my favorite trails at one of my favorite Missouri State Parks...and I haven't even done the whole trail! I discovered the fun adventure of hiking through the creek itself, after starting out on the main trail and descending from the top of the bluff to the creek. This short section of descent is not blazed, but it's clearly a well-worn trail. After starting from the TH at the parking lot, you'll hike about a mile to mile and a qtr, then you'll see the unmarked descending trail off to your left (the main, blazed trail continues off to the right). In dry seasons (like fall/winter), you can follow the creek more than a mile back to the parking lot after leaving the main trail. There are a few spots where your feet will get wet...or you can climb back up to dry ground an pass by the deeper water. Looking up the bluff to see the dolomite (?) bluffs covered in green moss is spectacular.
As of my visit in Feb. 2018, there is a new blazing system for Gans Creek: blazed in orange. It used to be out on brown and back on blue blazes...not sure when it changed, but the trail was really easy to follow. I could spot the orange blazes from down in the creek, where I had not previously seen the old blazes. Very cool to look out from the top of the ridge -- 6 stories up?? more?? -- down to the creek. I highly recommend!

We started the hike where Bear Field Road dead ends. There's tons of trails to follow; we just let the dog lead the way. The trails are interesting — elevation changes, roots and rocks to jump from — but then you reach the creek bed, which is BEAUTIFUL and then there are unexpected cliffs, too! It surprised the heck out of us. Definitely recommend.

This is straightforward and beautiful hike within minutes of Columbia, MO. As scenic and interesting as any of the many large state park in MO, this trail has some streams, bluffs and great vistas of the one from atop of the other.

Starting at the trailhead BE SURE to pick-up a trail map, even (and especially) if you have the AllTrails map with you. What the AllTrails does not show is that this hike is not one trail but a combination of three: The Gans Creek Wilderness Area Trail, White Connecter 9 (WC9) and White Connector 10 (WC10).

This trail is mostly well blazed (orange or reddish-orange), and nicely maintained. However, since the AllTrails version is a combo of the above mentioned three trails, watch for the following junctions and connectors.

Going Counter-Clockwise

Gans Creek Trail - Orange Blaze

Starting at the trailhead (just off of Hwy 163), you will cross a small bridge. Before you do, look in the trail box for a colored trail map and notice the white connecting trails along this loop.

To start, go East, and at roughly ¾ of a mile (on the AllTrails map) you will see a spur descending to the left. Ignore this spur if you want to hike the Alltrails loop.

Just before 2 miles, you will come to a T-intersection, turn right. Very shortly thereafter, almost at the 2 mile mark, watch for the White Connecting Trial #9 on the left, marked with white blazes with the number “9” on them. Take this trail (that is, turn left).

White Blaze #9

On the White #9 trail, you will descend off the ridge down into the Gans creek “valley.” This is beautiful section of the trail, even in the winter. At about 2 ¾ miles you will reach the creek bottom. When you do, look for an interesting little cave under a small bluff on the right.

The trail will move away from bluff, and for reason unknown, the white #9 blazes will disappear. Don’t panic, use your head (and map) and notice that Gans creek is still on you left, and since this is the only well-worn trail in this area, you are not lost.

Shortly after three miles, white trail #9 reaches the river (still no blazes). Now, if you want to shorten your hike, cross the river and white #9 rejoins the main trail. Attention, there are still no blazes, either white or orange, along this section. Again, no need to worry, it is a very short walk up what’s left of white #9 back from the river to the Gans Creek Trail. Once back on the Gans Creek Trail, go left, all the way up the hill to a parking lot. It is here that the orange blazes begin again (who knows!).

White Blaze # 10

If you want to follow the AllTrails map, when you get to the river on White #9, look to your right for White Blaze #10. This trial will continue along Gans Creek (the creek will be on your left), ascending sharply from about 3 ¾ to 3 ½ miles back to the Gans Creek Trail (blaze orange).

Gans Creek Trail (again) Orange Blaze

When White #10 intersects with the Gans Creek Trail (top of the hill at about the 3 ½ mile mark), go left. Here, again, some blazes are missing. But since this is the only maintained trail, it is very difficult to get lost. You will descend back to Gans Creek, crossing it at about the 4 mile mark. From this point, it is simply a matter of staying on the trail, blazed or not, for the return.

You will hit a parking lot at about 5 ¾ miles, the very same that you would have found if you had stayed on White #9 for the shorter hike. After this parking lot, the orange blazes return for the remainder of the trail.

At about 6 ¾ miles, after a sharp descent, you will again cross Gans Creek, then start a steep-ish uphill climb back to the trail that you were on when, at ¾ miles, you saw a spur descending to the left. When you get to the top of this hill, go right on the trail. You are now headed back to the trailhead on the same trail that you came in on. When this trail forks, at about mile 7, go left (the right goes sharply downhill) and continue back to the trailhead.

The posted time at the trailhead for this loop is 6 hours - it is not nearly that hard or slow (I did it in 2 ½ hours).

This is great trail for a longish day hike or a good shakedown hike (it could be a heck of a workout with a full pack!) if you are getting ready for a longer trip (like I am to Rocky Mountain Nat. Park) somewhere else. Give it a go and tell me what you thought of the trail.

One of my favorites in the area. Quiet, not heavily traveled. Varying terrains and a few moderately challenging obstacles. Great for getting ‘lost in the woods’ for an afternoon. Be careful though as there are a few spots where the trail is not well blazed or marked.

hiking
8 months ago

Nice city park with a country feel.

hiking
9 months ago

Great trail with a great view of Hinkson Creek.

hiking
9 months ago

Good Trail. A little hard to follow. I came in June, and the wildflowers were amazing.

road biking
9 months ago

Great trail for walking, biking, and hiking. Connects Albert-Oakland Park with Cosmo Park. The only major obstacle is a short section on sidewalks.

Beautiful views, great trail to take with older children (my son is in sixth grade) and dogs (we have two labs). Several spots with water where my dogs enjoyed a quick swim. Easy trail but not boring by any means!

Grindstone nature area trail is not a loop, I got to Maguire Blvd and either it's not clearly marked how to continue or you just better turn back. This is about 1.5 miles into the trail. This is after you have crossed under the old 63 and interstate 63, not my idea of quiet morning nature walk.

I wish more of this was paved because only part is, so you cooooould take a stroller but can't cuz of the gravel. But it's nice and pretty and well maintained:)

We rode our horses here, finished the outer loop in about 2.5 hrs, mostly at the walk, a little trotting. Very nice.

This was a really cool hike! Right now (August) all the water was very very low, so we managed to avoid getting wet at all. There were really cool places you could climb and so many unique sights to see. Also, there was like nobody there, which was really nice. The only thing negative was it wasn't marked well. There were arrows and letters, but we didn't know what any if it meant and there were arrows pointing in every direction so that didn't help at a fork in the road... There were way more trails the the "3 mile trail" they advertise. We ended up hiking about 4 miles because the trails were confusing. Which was fun, don't get me wrong! We had a baby on a schedule, so it was a little frustrating, but we made it back okay, it just took longer than expected. Will go back--and will prolly research the maps a little better so we know our way more.

walking
11 months ago

A beautiful escape right in the middle of town. Paved walkways and a very well kept facility.

walking
11 months ago

Very cool workout trail in the middle of town. Very easy hike/walk/run/bike. Either paved or a wide gravel path. Benches and work out equipment along the way. Not much for sights tho....

hiking
11 months ago

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

walking
Thursday, June 15, 2017

hiking
Friday, June 02, 2017

A bit confusing with one side trail that will fool you that branches off heading downhill from a bluff then follows the creek. if you cross then you must scramble up the opposite bank and in about 20 yards you exit the trail onto a gravel road. A bit down the road from the trailhead. Fooled us and another couple with a baby.

The divider to the loop, where you decide to go counter clockwise or clockwise, as of our last hike, had the brown base blaze for the trail but was missing the red or blue blaze. Turns out it was the right way to go clockwise but you think it might be one of the connecter trails that bisect the loop. A fee hikers but more trail runners.

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