A look at five Autumn hikes to take

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Long trail hikes in autumn offer a unique way to connect with the natural world. Find a hiking opportunity at a conservation area near you to discover nature in Missouri this fall.

Autumn hikes on remote trails offer unique opportunities to discover nature. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages residents to discover nature this fall by seeking out remote trail hiking experiences on conservation areas in central Missouri. 

Traversing longer trails on foot, forces us to slow down; to observe and appreciate elements of the natural world on a more intimate level. While bicycling, horse riding, or even a car ride can take us to remote places of natural beauty, hiking forces us to engage with the very ground on which we walk. 

Small, quiet interactions of tiny pollinators feeding from the fall’s final flowers, field crickets rustling beneath dry grasses, or the silent flight of a watchful owl, all become harder to miss. And the splendor of trees changing color and dropping leaves, turns forests into wooded wonderlands.

Autumn offers opportunities to engage with the natural world during a season of change. Finding a remote nature trail can provide a powerful reminder of how we’re all connected to these natural communities and seasonal cycles.  

Many conservation areas are in remote settings, and most have no potable water onsite. 

Before hitting the trail, remember to make a plan, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll return, and pack water, food and any other provisions you’ll need for your time on the trail.

Missouri Department of Conservation’s free MO Outdoors App for mobile devices provides a convenient way to carry digital maps and other information, even outside of cellphone service range. 

Always pack a paper map and compass, too, as a failsafe.

Always check hunting season dates before hiking during the fall. If hiking during an open firearms season, wear hunter orange clothing to ensure you’re seen and identifiable as a human hiker.

“There are so many great trails on conservation areas, it’s easy to find the experience you’re looking for,” said Missouri Department of Conservation Recreational Use Specialist, A.J. Campbell.

Many conservation areas in central Missouri offer excellent trails for long nature hikes this fall, just a short drive from home. 

Some areas feature more than ten miles of designated paths, and many of these areas offer multiple loops, allowing hikers to customize their experience.  

Canaan Conservation Area

Canaan Conservation Area, located west of Owensville in Gasconade County, this area offers 10 miles of multi-use trail, with three distinct loops.

Located west of Owensville in Gasconade County, this area offers 10 miles of multi-use trail, with three distinct loops. The natural-surface trail takes hikers, bikers, and horseback riders through forests, glades, woodlands, and prairies, and along Clear Fork and Sulphur Branch creeks. The trail is open year-round for hiking, but closed to bikes and horses during firearms hunting seasons for deer and turkey. Camping is allowed only in designated campsites near the area’s parking lots, available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.

Davisdale Conservation Area

Davisdale Conservation Area, located between Rocheport and Boonville in Howard County, this area offers 18 miles of service roads.

Located between Rocheport and Boonville in Howard County, this area offers 18 miles of service roads. These paths are mowed periodically during summer months, but users should expect to walk through shaggy grass if paths have not been mowed recently.  Service roads are open year-round to hiking and form several distinct loops through woodlands, prairies, and river hill forests, including many long, scenic views. Camping is allowed only in designated campsites near the area’s parking lots, available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.

Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area

Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area located south of Moberly in Howard and Randolph counties, offers 13 miles of multi-use trail, with three distinct loops.

Located south of Moberly in Howard and Randolph counties, this area offers 13 miles of multi-use trail, with three distinct loops. The chat-surface trail takes hikers, bikers, and horseback riders through forests and woodlands, and near the area’s 48-acre lake. The trail is open year-round for hiking, but closed to bikes and horses during firearms hunting seasons for deer and turkey. Primitive hike-in camping is allowed, and individual campsites with gravel parking pads are also available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.

Scrivner Road Creek Conservation Area

Scrivner Road Conservation Area.

Located south of Russellville in Cole County, this area offers 8.5 miles of multi-use trail with four distinct loops. The natural-surface trail takes hikers and horseback riders through prairies and woods, and offers long, scenic views. The trail is open year-round for hiking, but closed to bikes and horses during firearms hunting seasons for deer and turkey. A separate 1-mile path, periodically mowed, loops around the 9-acre Winegar Lake. Camping is allowed only in designated campsites near the area’s parking lots, available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.

Three Creeks Conservation Area

Located south of Columbia in Boone County, Three Creeks Conservation area offers 8.5 miles of hiking and multi-use trail.

Located south of Columbia in Boone County, this area offers 8.5 miles of hiking and multi-use trail. The Turkey Creek interpretive trail is a 3-mile hiking-only trail with 1- and 2-mile cutoffs. It takes hikers along Turkey Creek and many beautiful bluffs. The remaining 5.5 miles of trail, open year-round, takes hikers, bikers, and horseback riders through forests surrounding Bass, Turkey, and Bonne Femme creeks.  These trails feature several creek crossings, so hikers should plan to walk through water, especially during wetter times of the year. Primitive hike-in camping is allowed, except during firearms hunting seasons for deer and turkey.

Learn more about these, and other hiking opportunities at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places.