Note To Our Readers

Conservation Trails

By land or water, by foot, boat, or wheels, you are sure to find adventure and discover nature on a Missouri trail. Our state has hundreds of trails to explore, including more than 700 miles on 136 conservation areas and 10 nature and education centers statewide. In recognition of this great public resource, Missouri was named the “Best Trails State” by American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization, at the International Trails Symposium in April.

There is no easier path to outdoor recreation and wellness — for all ages and levels of ability — than following a trail near you.

Conservation-area trails provide recreational and educational opportunities as well as access to your conservation lands. They range from paved, level walkways to challenging hikes. Whether you are looking for an urban escape, hunting or angling hotspot, or a rambling rural trek through prairies, woodlands, glades, and wetlands, we have a trail for you. Bicycling and horseback riding are allowed on select designated trails, as well.

The Department also maintains a growing number of disabled accessible trails. Learn more about how we are working to remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying the outdoors and search our database of disabled accessible facilities on our Accessible Outdoors page at mdc.mo.gov/node/15283.

Find Department of Conservation trails near you by using our interactive trail map at mdc.mo.gov/node/3392 or contact a regional office.

If you prefer a paddle to hiking shoes, read Finding Flow on the Mighty MO, on Page 10, Brett Dufur’s tale of paddling the MR340, the 340-mile Missouri River Marathon — arguably one of Missouri’s most challenging trail adventures. Then plan your own voyage of discovery on the Lewis and Clark Water Trail, which spans more than 500 miles of the lower Missouri River. We have improved Missouri River access along the trail by expanding the number of boat ramps and public lands within the river’s corridor.

For additional water trails on the Missouri River and beyond, we have updated our popular Paddler’s Guide to Missouri. Detailed sections include northern streams, the Missouri River, and floats from all corners of the state. Each waterway includes easy-to-read maps, descriptions of access points, camping, and conservation areas along the way. (Available for $8 from Conservation Department Nature Shops, online at mdcnatureshop.com, or by calling toll free 877-521-8632.)

I invite you to join the Governor’s 100 Missouri Miles Challenge to complete “100 Missouri Miles” of physical activity by the end of this year. This initiative is a great opportunity for fun and fitness and to celebrate our outdoor and conservation heritage. Visit 100missourimiles.com to learn more.

Missouri’s conservation-area and water trails enrich our quality of life and economy, and they are accessible to all. Whether you join family and friends, or choose to trek solo, find your own path to adventure this year on a Missouri trail.

Robert L. Ziehmer, director