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

This trail is amazing! my husband and I hiked it May 24th, 2018 in the morning. We saw and heard lots of birds and butterflies we're abundant and we're loving the wildflowers in the glades. The views are breathtaking and visibility was great, and I'll definitely be back in autumn to see the leaves.

We also saw lots of Collared Lizards, including a male in his bright breeding colors. Mina Sauk falls were beautiful!

As for the terrain, I didn't have any problems. As long as proper shoes are worn and care is taken in the more rocky areas, it's a very doable hike.

Will definitely do this hike again. The trail is paved until you reach the Cats Paw, which is the lookout, then gravel trails split off each side. We walked around the lookout and down the rock to the St. Francois River rapids. Really cool area. We hung out on the rocks for about an hour.

Mina Sauk was a good challenging hike for me. I will advise that you should have on some decent shoes for walking on a rugged terrain; this trail had a lot of rocks on it to hop over. You will see a mini alternate path to bypass the rocks in some spots. There's also a lot of mud and some puddles after it rains, too. For those who may question taking a walking stick on this trail, I would advise doing it, even if you're just entertaining the thought. I didn't need one, but this is a trail where you may want to err on the side of caution and just do it.

The first part of the trail didn't appear to be marked very well, especially when you kind of got used to the rocks being your path. Download an offline map from Alltrails (yes, you'll have to pay for a subscription, but it's worth it to me). the only time the offline map didn't work is when it started pouring down rain on me halfway through my hike, lol (I was more worried about my phone getting too wet at that point, lol). At that point, the Ozark Trail shared the path with the Mina Sauk Trail, and you could follow those markers, in addition to the Mina Sauk markers, all the way to the parking lot. You also have access to the Highest Point form the trail as well.

As for the Mina Sauk Falls, you do have to shimmy your way down the hill to see it better; make like you're taking the Ozark Trail to get there. It was nice to lay back on a rock, look up, and listen to all the sounds.

There weren't many people there that day, and it was a Saturday. For me, that made for a more peaceful hike.

Overall, it was a moderate level hike, but more on the "hard" side of moderate, in my opinion. It just had to do with the terrain and the incline going back up. I still thought the views were worth the adventure! I'd go back!

4 days ago

Great network of trails!! The trails here are well maintained and blazed/marked properly in the most crucial areas, such as creek crossings and trail intersections. The forest service seems to do a great job taking care of this area. There are plenty of campsites out on the trails. We saw very, very little trash while hiking - just a couple of protein bar wrappers. (We are very big on pack-in pack-out.) There is a good mix of forest trails under canopy and open area trails. We stayed at the Pilot trailhead the first night, which has numerous campsites, as well as a community outhouse. We intended on overnighting on the trail, but ended up in a tick-infested spot and couldn't find a suitable campsite along the Tower trail, so decided to just head back to the trailhead.

We hiked the Long Creek trail west to the falls, then doubled back to the Upper Pilot trail, which is mostly open area (lots of sun exposure and no water). We then turned east on the Tower trail, where we tried to set up camp but got run off by the ticks. There was also no water on Tower trail headed east from Upper Pilot. The creek that's on the map was bone dry. Most of the water seemed to be in the southern trails.

We can't wait to get back and explore the other trails!! We fell in love with this area.

This was a nice trail. I enjoyed it very much. As you get into the higher levels, just know that sometimes there are teenagers sitting on the bluffs and “might” be smoking pot. All in all it was perfect for an afternoon walk.

backpacking
8 days ago

Amazing! We had a blast on a spring hike.

hiking
11 days ago

The waterfall is pretty small right now but we enjoyed the hike and the crystal clear and cool stream.

backpacking
11 days ago

Did the entire 17 miles over a 2 day trip. Stayed the night on the scenic overlook near the campground. Their are some nice views at the scenic overlook and on the south loop, however the trail was very overgrown with little markings. The trail itself is very rocky and deteriorated at some points and brush had grown up and completely covered the trail for over a mile in some sections. Even with adequate preparation it was sometimes hard to know where the trail was. Watch for creek crossings and game trails as it is easy to lose the trail around these. Overall, the trail would be very nice with some maintenance and waypoints. I would not go again in its current condition.

hiking
11 days ago

Great views of Shoal Creek all the way through. Much of the trail is shaded. Many people were swimming in the water.

backpacking
12 days ago

This is a spectacular trail. It has great views, tall pine trees, waterfalls, creeks and a river (if you go further east off the main trail when the trail cuts back west at its most eastern point). I debated on whether to take the South loop first or the North loop first and chose the South loop, which I’m glad I did.

The South loop has some nice views early on and several water sources. The trail is fairly easy to follow until you get to the river crossings before the Paddy Creek Recreation area where there are other trails in the area that you may be tempted to follow (we were). A map, compass and/or GPS go a long way in avoiding backtracking here.

When heading back on the North loop there is a great camping spot with a beautiful view of the valley (it is marked as waypoint 10 on the map referred to in the review before this one, which was a great review that helped us navigate this trail). An Eastern Whip-poor-will perched in the tree over our tents and sang part of the evening and again at dawn. Ovenbirds were everywhere calling “teacher, teacher, teacher.”

The hike back to the trailhead on the North loop can be very rocky and “rooty”. It is an easy place to twist an ankle or lose your balance. The trail climbs and descends several times before arriving back at the trailhead so make sure to stock up on water, especially in the hotter months when some of the water sources on the North loop may be dry.

The tallest pine trees on the trail were on the last quarter of the North loop heading back to the trailhead. The waterfall was a nice place to take a break, although it was a little hard to see because of the foliage. All in all, a great trail that was a lot of fun!

This trail is not an out and back trail, once you reach the shutins there is a trail that goes up into some rocky glens, and loops back around to the parking lot. We saw a bunch of lizards and skinks up there! Even some cactus?! The shutins themselves are gorgeous, we scrambled up the rocks on the north (east) side of the river and found a way back across downstream. I honestly can't wait to go back and explore, Amidon CA seems to be much bigger than just that one little stretch of river.

Unfortunately the weather was too dry and the waterfall was nonexistent. The hike was great nonetheless with lots of rock formations. It is a very narrow path and even with the dry weather there are several small creeks to cross with muddy soft banks and slick rocks. Definitely a little more challenging for older hikers.

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful trail! Definitely a work out if you choose to do the stairs!! Great history behind this area.

Beautiful views all around and the waterfall was in full force! Very worth it but there is no exaggeration about the amount of rocks on this trail. In many places your only opinion is to hop from rock to rock or to walk through dry river beds with large rocks jutting out every few inches. Definitely a high risk for a sprained or broken ankle but it was worth it. We brought our dog and we were really luck we had bough a first aid kit that day because he sliced his foot open. We would definitely bring him back because he enjoyed every minute of it but definitely not a hike for nervous or older dogs.

backpacking
17 days ago

I am not why this trail isn’t ranked higher, it is an absolute beauty of a hike. Located in the Mark Twain National Forest, this trail has a little of everything for just about any backpacker or ambitious day hiker.

To get there, find your way to Roby, MO. If you are coming from the East, South or West, go through Roby and head North on HWY 17. Watch for a National Forest sign that reads “Paddy Lake Trailhead.” If you are coming up from Roby, MO, that is traveling North on HWY 17, the sign will be on your right - if you are coming from the North and heading South on HWY 17, that is traveling towards Roby, watch for the sign on your left before you get to Roby, MO.

Go down the Paddy Creek Trailhead road (on the map it is Forestry Tr 274A) to Roby lake and the circular drive trailhead parking.

Once you are parked and ready, to get to the actual “trail” trailhead, walk back up the same dirt road that you just drove down and look for a red metal gate on the right - here your hike begins.

Once you enter the gate, you will traverse an open field, move through a small stand of trees and cross a dirt road to register at the trailhead box. Continue North on the trail, and shortly you will arrive at the junction of the North and South loop. IMHO, taking the South loop first is the better hike, so turn right at the junction.

This trail is poorly blazed, with minimum signage as well. However, with a map (here is an excellent one - http://www.ouachitamaps.com/picture_library/Paddy%20Creek/Paddy%20Creek%20Map.jpg) and a compass, you should not have a problem.

Note however, that if you are taking the south loop, that is going CC, the trail forks at around 4.0 miles, waypoint “006” on the map (see link above). When you get to this point, there is a sign for the left fork that reads “North Loop” and one for the right fork that reads “Paddy Creek Campground.” If you want to hike the whole loop, go right (“Paddy Creek Campground”). You you want to hike only ½ of the loop, go left (“North Loop”). The trail on the left is a connecting trial, part of an old military road, and descends to Little Paddy Creek. Right where the trail crosses the river, blazed with white diamonds (standard markings for a connecting trail), there is just enough space here and there to make camp, complete with a fire ring on the north side of the creek.

If you are hiking the whole loop, go right at this fork (following the sign “Paddy Creek Campground”), and continue along top of a beautiful ridgeline for about 2 miles (waypoint “007” on the map). The trail then plunges down to the junction of Little and Big Paddy Creek, then up sharply to cross Forest Road 220. Turn right on this road for the Paddy Creek Campground. This is a developed campground with room for some 23 tents, some of them coming in by Paddy Creek Road (https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mtnf/recarea/?recid=21782). While I tend to stay away from the developed stuff while I am backpacking, this is a nice (free!), well kept campground.

Chill at the campground for the night, even taking a dig in the clear, cool Big Piney River.

To finish the hike, get back on the trail and head north and downhill to Big Paddy Creek. Traverse along the southern edge of a bluff, before climbing it to a wonderful view of Big Piney River (“010” on the map).

Enjoy the next two miles of the trail is it moves around a gentle ridge, and even begins to descend back down towards Little Paddy Creek over the next two mile. At point “012” on the map the trail is joined by the connecting trail that comes up from Little Paddy Creek. At point “013” it splits - go left to stay on the trail (the right path is actually the dirt road/connecting trail that came up from Little Paddy Creek).

After point “013” the trails begins a series of “up/down” traverses, four (4) in all. Some of these will have water, and the last one, point “014” on the map, has a beautiful little waterfall and pool, perfect to rest up for the final push. When you cross this creek, the trail will turn down stream (going right) and shortly thereafter split, going either roughly straight or hard to the left and up hill. Take the hard left, and go up hill. Look for the small (add to it please!) cairn on the left at this trail junction.

From that point forward, it is an easy walk back to the trailhead box, across the dirt road and back to the red gate.

Remember to pack it in, pack it out, and enjoy this little hidden gem of a hike!

Jeff G

I hiked this trail along with the full Whispering Pines loop. Well marked and easy to follow.

backpacking
18 days ago

I really enjoy this trail. It is a bit rugged in some areas --as this is also a horse trail.

The trail isn't really blazed very well, a map and compass wouldn't hurt to carry.

I am ready to go back again.

Here is a short video from my last trip:

https://youtu.be/DPZEVwNZlvo

hiking
19 days ago

hiking
19 days ago

We completed the trail from the Roby Lake trailhead. We started along the south loop which has great scenery’s early on, rock outcropping, wet season waterfalls etc and moved quickly along the first half of the trail. The south trail seemed less strenuous than the north trail as there wasn’t as much up and down travel. The hill climb near the middle of the trail coming from the south trail has a great rewarding view and scenery at the peak. We had hiked it before but right now in the middle of spring is a great time to be out there and there is plenty of water to refill if you use a filter. We are planning to spend more time there with the addition of camping in order to explore some of the interesting topography. Of note would be to have spare rope sandals etc for water crossings. We were glad we did!

trail running
19 days ago

Hiked this yesterday with my 10 and 8 year old sons. . Technical, rocky trail with some great views.

hiking
20 days ago

It’s a really beautiful area as many have stated. It may be different with very high or low water levels but when we were there there was pool after inviting pool as we hiked along the creek. Some of them were ~20 feet across.. Next time I’ll do some wading.

Knocked off one star because of how poorly marked and maintained the trail was. There are a couple pics of one of our group with her toes on a 6” ledge. I doubt that was the way the trail went but it sure appeared to lead us there.

Fun hike. Found a couple of morels along the trail. A black and white warbler and red-eyed vireo posed for us. The overlook at the top of the hill overlooking the mill and valley was beautiful.

hiking
20 days ago

The old mill is a highlight of this short hike. It sets next to a spring that averages 81 million gallons a day. The bridge over the creek has long since washed away so it’s an out and back trail now.

Beautiful rock formations and well kept trails... plus a lot of off shoot trails

we love going there. its beautiful lush dense woods. beautiful falls after it rains. can be muddy and slippery. bring extra socks.

Nice area. Pretty fascinating when you look at it from
above. You park where it is. Not exactly a Wilderness Area, but a nice easy approach like this is nice at times and for some people.

hiking
25 days ago

Amazing weekend on the Coy Bald Trail and The Falls section. We had just had a decent rain the weekend before so the creek and Falls were amazing. Found the best Campsites down by the Falls and couldn't resist camping there the whole weekend. The hike in was fairly easy to moderate however there are a few trails that can take you off the main trail so the use of GPS or Alltrails is a must. Thank Goodness I got Pro Alltrails so I was able to download the map and get us back on track (since there was no signal) . We were able to get our water from the falls and creek using our Sawyer squeeze and relaxed at camp and by the water and enjoy the rest of the trail without packs on. We saw a few other hikers and actually ran into someone I knew from High School. CRAZY huh! Hiked out at 5 am to catch the sunrise on the bald. It was so amazing! I highly recommend this trail- especially after a good rain!!!!

I rate this as difficult, because of the challenging nature of climbing over and around the big rocks, which are incredibly slippy when wet.
You can camp at the trailhead by your car, or at the river some 40 mins in or further upstream, I found it difficult to get around rocks with my backpack, and because I was on my own, return and camped at a safer place. This is a beautiful site to camp, relax and hike. Totally recommend it.

hiking
26 days ago

My husband and I did this trail this week during the rain. Definitely worth a trek in wet weather to see the falls flowing at their finest. As someone with short legs and with all the rain was glad to have brought my poles! I do think the blazes on the beginning of the trail could be improved.

love this hike also there is a cave here quite big I have marked on my trip for all to be able to find have fun be careful

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