Guide to Hiking Trails in Columbia

July 8, 2023

Over the river and through the woods where you'll find tons of amazing hiking trails right here in Columbia. Whether you want a challenging trek or a casual meander, there are plenty of off-road options for your crew. Please note that all trails we're highlighting are predominantly gravel or earth trails - not paved or accessible for most strollers, wheelchairs, etc. 

1. Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
Most of us are familiar with the gem that is Rock Bridge on the south side of town. What you may not know is that there's more to this State Park than just the Devil's Ice Box. With eight named, official trails and many more cutoffs/shortcuts within the park, the options will keep little legs hiking for many trips.

Missouri State Parks

2. Pinnacles Youth Park
Just a few miles out of town lies the secret and spectacular Pinnacles Youth Park. With several trails, inspiring cliffs, and creeks for splashing, this place is every kid's dream. Hold on tight to little hands if you climb up the pinnacle cliffs, it's a long way down.

3. Grindstone Nature Area
Right in the middle of town you'll find this hidden hiking area that's a favorite of nature-loving Columbians. Over five miles of trails to explore plus prairies, creeks and off-leash dog areas make this a place everyone can enjoy.

4. Finger Lakes State Park
Many don't realize Columbia's got two State Parks nearby and this one's perfect for hiking. With several different trails available, this less crowded park is ideal for mixing up your trekking routine.

Missouri State Parks

5. Three Creeks Conservation Area
Just south of town you'll find this beautiful nature area with several available hiking trails and plenty of creeks and cliffs for photo ops.

Missouri Department of Conservation

6. Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
Along the Missouri River on the southwest edge of Columbia is this wetland wonder. Wander the trails around marshes and wetland habitat to spot endless birds and wildlife. Or park on Warren School Road and hike the trail out to a scenic overlook where you'll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Missouri River.

Missouri Department of Conservation

7. Cedar Creek Trail System
Just east of the Columbia Regional Airport lies the Mark Twain National Forest and 36 miles of hiking opportunities on the Cedar Creek Trail. Creeks, bluffs, flowers, and fall colors can all be found in this nature area.

8. Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area
Six miles north of Columbia you'll find a converted strip mine that's been reclaimed for outdoor enthusiasts. Lakes, trails, and boating opportunities are available for plenty of al fresco fun.

Noppadol Paothong | Missouri Department of Conservation

9. Rhett's Run - Cosmo Park Trail
Skip the playground (if you can) and head to the very back of Cosmo Park to find this 4-mile trail filled with twists, turns, and plenty of interesting scenery. Very popular with mountain bikers so be prepared to share and yield when necessary.

City of Columbia

10. Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary
Right in town you'll find this bird-filled 1.6 mile trail perfect for a quick trip into nature. Rarely busy, this quiet hike has plenty of beauty and adventure in all of Columbia's four seasons.

CoMo Gives

11. Wilson Park
Another short but accessible hike is located on the edge of the Mizzou campus. This 1.5 mile trek through woods and over creeks is a fun outing for the fam. Parking can be challenging during Mizzou hours but weekends offer plenty of options in the Vet School AV9 lot (check MU parking restrictions as they can change).

City of Columbia

12. Breckenridge Trail
This relatively new addition to Columbia's hiking options lies just in the back of a growing subdivision. Be prepared for signs of city life around you during this 2.8 mile trek as you pop around corners. But it offers some great nature and is super convenient.