Best Hikes In and Near St. Louis, Missouri 2021
Take a hike and see why Missouri is called the “Show-Me-State.” One of the best things about Missouri is the miles and miles of beautiful state parks and wilderness areas that are all just a few minutes from your home. Here is a list of our top hiking trails in and near St. Louis.
Hawn State Park
Hawn State Park is a lush little getaway for camping and hiking. The park is about 5,000 acres of St. Genevieve forest, featuring rivers, sandstone canyons, and rocky bluffs. The park has 8 trails. Whispering Pines Trail is considered by some to be one of the best hiking trails in the state. It is a 9.75-mile hike, consisting of a North Loop (6 miles) and South Loop (3.75 miles). Here is a full map and guide from mostateparks.com.
2- Mina Sauk Falls Trail – Best Hike with a WaterFall
Taum Sauk State Park
This trailhead and the parking lot actually begin at the highest point in Missouri (1,772 feet elevation), which means you can snap a selfie at Missouri’s peak after only a short walk from the parking lot. The rest of the 3-mile trail is largely down hill with lots of mountain-like views along bluffs overlooking a distant wilderness. Keep in mind, you’ll have to come back up to get back to your car. The trail connects to the Ozark Trail, the longest hiking trail in Missouri (400-700 miles). But don’t let that scare you. The trail is well marked, and you will not regret pressing on to see Missouri’s tallest waterfall.
3- Braille Trail – Most Unique Hike
Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks State Park got its name from its colossal granite boulders, which look strikingly like massive elephants. Adults and kids love to climb on the elephants’ backs and explore the wilderness surrounding a quarry. Braille Trail is an easy 1-mile loop specially designed to allow those with visual or physical disabilities to experience this unique park. If you live in Missouri and you’ve yet to experience Elephant Rocks, you should consider a visit. Plan for at least a 2-day trip and check out Johnson’s Shut-Ins too.
4- Big Sugar Creek Trail – Closest GetAway
Cuivre River State Park
Cuivre River State Park is “one of the state’s largest and most rugged parks” and is located not far from St. Charles. This is one of our favorite places to hike because we can get there in a matter of minutes and, once there, it feels like we are all of a sudden deep in some national forest. The park features several trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Lake Lincoln offers a boat ramp for batting and fishing, along with a sandy beach for swimming and canoeing. Cuivre River State Park has 14 trails, so you’ll have to find your favorite. We love Big Sugar Creek Trail (3.6 miles) because of its easy access for kids. The trailhead begins at a playground. Lakeside Trail is also a great hike, following the edge of Lincoln Lake and weaving in and out of the wilderness.
5- Lewis and Clark Trail – Best Hike Close to St. Louis
Weldon Spring Conservation Area
The Lewis and Clark Trail is a 5.2 or 8.3-mile loop that starts just off of Highway 94 and climbs a moderate bluff (849 ft elevation) to an overlook (2 miles in) with stunning views of the Missouri River. The trail splits at the overlook. From there you can choose to take Lewis Trail for an additional 5.6 miles – making your entire hike 8.3- or you can choose the fast way back by taking Clark Trail to add 2.2 miles, for a total of 5.2 miles. The trail is well marked. Be aware, however, this is a very popular destination and will likely be packed on a beautiful day.
St. Louis County Park
The Cliff Cave County Park Loop is a 4.8-mile loop with views of the Mississippi River and “Indian Cave.” The cave is closed to the public. However, St. Louis Parks hosts summer tours through the Cliff Capers program. The Park Loop Trail has the best view of the cave, but Spring Valley Trail (2.8-mile loop) is also a very popular paved trail for hiking, biking, and running. The area has been known to flood. Check the park site here for trail conditions before planning your trip.
7- White Bison Trail Loop – Best Hike With Animals
Lone Elk Park
The White Bison Trail Loop at Lone Elk Park is a 3-mile loop with stunning views of elk, buffalo, turkey, and birds. You can drive your car through the park for wildlife sightings, but if you want to get closer you’ll definitely want to take the White Bison Trail Loop. If you’d like a longer, more challenging hike, Chubb Trail can be accessed via the Lone Elk Trail Head and is an 8.5-mile stretch with a 1,305-foot elevation. Chubb is not a loop, so it will be 12.4 miles total if you go to the end and back.
8- Lost Valley Trail – Longest Hike Near St Louis
Weldon Springs Conservation Area
The Lost Valley Trail is a 10.5 miles loop and the perfect spot for a long, refreshing workout close to St. Louis. Access the trail from the Highway 40/94 interchange, then take Highway 94 South for approximately 5 miles. Be aware that the trail is shared with bikers. The hike itself is flat for many stretches, but there are some nice climbs and beautiful nature along the way.
Castlewood State Park
There are plenty of hiking trails in Castlewood State Park. The River Scene Trail, in particular, is the most popular for hikers. It is a 3.1 mile, moderate, loop along the river and climbs 250 feet to the bluffs for a nice overlook of the Meramec River. Most of the trail is pretty flat as it winds along the river. The 250 feet of elevation happens, mostly, all at once. You can elect to climb that elevation via the trail from the trailhead as marked. If you’d prefer to climb the 250 feet via the stairs, simply take the trail in reverse, or counterclockwise, to climb the wooden staircase, called “The 200 Steps” that will take you to the stunning overlooks.
The Rock Quarry Trail is a short 2.5-mile loop with 2 options, the short loop or the “long loop” (2.5 miles) This trail is great hiking for the whole family. It begins with a nice ascent but the rest of the hike is pretty flat with bridges, rock bluffs, and even a cave left over from the quarry. There are 4 great trails in Rockwood Reservation that are all easily accessible from the parking lot and visitor center. So if the 2.5-mile loop isn’t quite enough, then you can take Lime Kiln Trail (2.8 miles) or Trial Among The Trees (1.5 miles).
11. Rock Hollow Trail – Best Bang For Your Buck
Rock Hollow Park
Rock Hollow Trail (2.2 miles) is an easy, out-and-back trail near Ballwin, Missouri. This is a great place to hike that is known for its spread of Virginia Bluebell, several creeks, waterfalls, Ohio Buckeyes, and “zombies.” Even though this is a completely paved trail, with 10’ wide asphalt, you still get a very natural hiking feel, making this the best bang for a pretty easy little hike. The trail can be accessed via Ridge Meadows Elementary School or the Al Foster Memorial Trailhead off of “Zombie Road.” You read that right. It is actually called “Zombie Road” based on urban legends of paranormal sightings of those who once died on the old railroad tracks. Zombies aside, this is a great hike, or bike, for the entire family.
12. Dogwood and Woodbine Trail – Beautiful Hike In Chesterfield
Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park
The Dogwood (2.2 mi) and Woodbine Trail (1.5 mi) are 2 smaller trails that equal a total of about 4 miles. These 2 popular trails are located in the heart of Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park. What hikers like most about these 2 trails are the change in elevation and the deep forest feel.