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


trail running

Defiance, Missouri Map

Love this trail! Well marked, but I did get confused and ended up on the Hamburg Trail over half way through. I retraced my steps and took a right to follow the electrical lines and BAM! I was back on the trail. Over all, lots of bikers and switchbacks, but that kept me on my toes and interested. The perfect hike for my pup and I! Beautiful scenery, streams, and weather. Bring plenty of food and water for the both of you; you’ll be out there for awhile :)

mountain biking
24 days ago

Great trail. Where is the turn to get back to parking lot if you want to stay off hamburg trail?

great park to hike at, good scenery and probably the quietest parks i've ever been too. The biggest problem I had was not wearing any bug repellent and the park even has a sign at the trailhead saying to wear repellent. But I continued anyway and when I got home later that day the amount of larvae ticks or chiggers I had on me I would call an infestation!!! never had that my bugs on me at one time. Moral of the story is I'm investing in bug repellent...

Really enjoyed this trail. My friend and I decided late in the day to do a hike, and we wanted something not too easy, but a little elevation. This was perfect for our last minute hike. Not too long, not too hard...it was just right. Saw one mountain biker...this would be a fun trail for that.

This section of the trail is not really a hike but more of a walk as the Katy Trail is hard-packed limestone suitable for biking. The roadway has virtually no grade in this section.

I've done this trail section several times over the years. Sometimes the mosquitoes can be rather annoying (there are places with standing water) but today they were next to none.

Except mid-day when the sun is high in the sky, most of this section of the trail is covered by a forest canopy giving one lots of shade.

I noted that the sign at Defiance indicated the distance back to Weldon Spring is 2.6 miles. That would make the walk only 5.2 miles unless you had walked all the to the "Z" turn in Highway 94 where the two bar and grills are located.

I walked this on a Monday morning in August and perhaps about 30 cyclists passed me going either way and I only encountered 3 other walkers. This makes for a very comfortable stroll that can be done by people of most ages.

I'm a leisurely walker and did the round trip in just under 2 hours. If you wish to break your hike into two halves, it is possible to have lunch or a dinner in Defiance.

The distance is best thing about this trail. Not much elevation change and a lot of abandoned roads. Watch out for bikers.

I did this trail a couple of years ago and loved it. We didn't stick to the path highlighted in Red here however. We took the dashed line (shown in map) off-shoot to the Missouri River and saw River Otters swimming around. At the left end of the island looking at it here (no dashed lines shown), we found a trail that took us to the fork and saw great blue heron and was a cool place to see. Don't get lost however :-). All of this made for a long hike which was around 10 miles I'd guess.

trail running
1 month ago

Great running trail. Light traffic consisted of a couple hikers and a couple bikers. If you haven't been before be sure to leave yourself plenty of daylight or bring lights. My run turned out to be just over 15 miles due to a few wrong turns... oops. I'll be going back again for sure.

I hiked the Matson Hill Trail CCW on the afternoon of Monday, July 23rd. I didn't hike the entire trail but instead did a lollipop excluding its southwest quadrant.

My GPS shows that I traveled 2.98 miles in 1 hour and 26 minutes. This was a leisurely pace as I wanted to enjoy the woodland beauty of the trail and take some pictures.

The St Charles County Parks map that I was using shows that the Matson Hill Loop is 2.8 miles so that also must exclude the part I skipped.

There aren't any real scenic highlights on the trail. However, the woodland area that it covers is nice. The trail itself is well packed and fairly wide so I never had to brush up against undergrowth that might be carrying ticks.

I only ran into one other couple during my hike and they were going the opposite direction. It just so happened that it was right at the only unmarked fork. If I had stayed on the more traveled path (right) that would have completed the entire Loop.

However, by turning onto the less travelled path (left) that completed the top "circle" section of the lollipop and led back to the trailhead via the "stick" section of the trail. Thanks, guys, for pointing me in that direction.

I might add that I went downhill for the first 20 to 30 minutes so you must take in consideration that you'll need to regain all that elevation. But with all the switchbacks, that is not very difficult.

I definitely plan to do more of this group of trails again in the fall when it's a bit cooler. FYI, there is a porta potty at the trailhead.

trail running
1 month ago

I love this trail. Some good variety in the terrain between dirt and some fairly technical rocky stuff. Lots of hills. CW leaves you with some pretty tough climbing at the end of the loop. Also, know that, if you’re the first person on the trail, you’re going to eat about a million spiders.

mountain biking
2 months ago

love this trail.

Very boring besides a couple waterways, you should really just bike it instead of hiking it. Lots of bugs. Better off going somewhere else.

Unmarked trail that doesn't go anywhere near the river. You basically meander through fields and clearings. I went off the path to make it more interesting but got ticks in the process. There is a tiny sand area to see the river, but for being an island it doesn't offer anything. You WILL need Bug Spray.

As mentioned in other reviews, this trail is shared heavily with mountain bikers. Always have to be listening. Especially when on the steep single lane trail. Bikers do come flying down those often. Other than the bikers, this trail is beautiful and offers changes of scenery.

trail running
3 months ago

This was a fun trail for running. Yes, there were a lot of bikes, but it wasn’t too bad. Plenty of technical stuff with some gravel and dirt mixed in. Great times!

4 months ago

I do not find this as kid friendly. The trail it self is more like a rarely used atv path. The grass is pretty high through the trail at this time, **use bug spray if you plan to traverse this trail.** I tried to find the other trails listed on the map but was very difficult to find with all the growth. However on a positive note it was a nice stroll through it.

Not my first choice for hiking. Most of the traffic on this single lane trail is mountain bikes so you are constantly stepping off of the trail to let bikes zoom by you without warning. Trail has a section of a 1000 switchbacks that will annoy a hiker because there isn't much elevation change. Great fun when you are on a bike but when you are on foot not so much.

4 months ago

This trail is probably five stars for mountain biking, and I give it three stars for hiking. The trail is overall smooth and rolling, I've hiked it once and was constantly stepping aside for mountain bikers. I would say if you want to hike in this area, definitely do the Lewis & Clark trail just to the east of this location. I also found this trail got fairly boring without much in the way of scenery.

fair trail, some nice water features

trail running
4 months ago

ran this trail for the 1st time...did the matson hill and the oxen trail together for 5 miles. went ccw. nice single track trail through a wooded area with gradual hills. lots of switchbacks which helped. the first part of oxen trail was very rocky and somewhat technical. i think if you are running, this is more of a moderate trail versus easy. going ccw ended with a big incline. will definitely do this one again.

5 months ago

good trail, enjoyed very much but I walked the legs off my lab and wife and I am old (lol). it is not a dog-friendly trail, the dog must be on a leash.give it a try.

Pretty boring. For some reason I thought that if I went hiking on an island, a large part of the trail would be along the river.


nice long moderate trail with variegated terrain, flora + fauna. very peaceful + modestly trafficked with a few hikers + bikers at this time of year.

The description is definitely wrong - this trail is no where near Cottleville, but is between the Weldon Spring Conservation Area and Defiance. This trail has a mix of hills, valleys, woodlands, fields, creeks, and the remnants of the lost town of Hamburg. Really beautiful in fall and winter.

Nice quiet trail with lots of switchbacks to keep the elevation gains gradual. This was my first time on the trail....I'm guessing the best used through October is due to falling leaves. Leaves were covering much of the path, making it difficult to see.

The 5-mile path shown is a combination of two trails - the Matson Hill Loop and the Oxen Mill Trail.

mountain biking
10 months ago

This is mountain biking. Great trail. Great variety.

mountain biking
10 months ago

I like a challenge, and this was. Definitely not easy as listed, if biking, over the handlebars once. Lost Valley is 10.5 miles and this trail wore me out in 4-5, combined with Oxen Mill trail.

Great trail but it's not 2.84 as listed on several sites. Matson is 3.28 miles per GPS. O would also rate as moderate due to the rocks, roots and rapid inclines/declines. The trail is used for bikes and hiking. If you're biking be ready for a challenge. Hikers...be ready for some calm beauty if you're coming mid-week during the day, especially mornings. Beautiful place! I highly recommend it!

Awesome trail!

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