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18 Extraordinary Horseback Riding Trails in Southeast Missouri State Parks and Conservation Areas

Horse Riding and Horseback Trail Riding in the Midwest: Horse Trails and Trail Rides in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas

Horse Trails in SE Missouri State Parks and Conservation Areas:

*Note – most equestrian trails in conservation areas are closed during firearms seasons.  Contact the park in the links below to find out if trails are open before traveling.

Angeline Conservation Area:   (25.00 trail miles)   (Summersville, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. This rugged forest and old fields area has a hiking trail and 25 miles of horseback riding trails through field roads. It also offers access to the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers.

Points of interest include a scenic overlook on Highway 19, the headquarters for the Eminence forestry district office, Bay Creek Shooting Range, Flat Rock Lookout Tower, Lick Log Hollow Nature Trail a one mile interpretive hike and a day use Equestrian loop trail system that is 9.5 miles long.

This park has the largest horse trail systems of the SE Missouri Conservation Areas.  Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Angeline

Apple Creek Conservation Area:   (5.00 trail miles)   (Jackson, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. Horseback riding is restricted to the multi-use (Hike/Bike/Horse) Apple Creek Trail (moderate). Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Apple Creek

Babler State Park:   (6.00 trail miles)   (Wildwood, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park near St. Louis has a six-mile trail that takes riders by the historic stables, an outstanding example of the beautiful stonework done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks – Babler

Canaan Conservation Area:  (10 Trail Miles)  (Owensville, MO)  – View on Google Maps.  Multi-use hike / bike / horseback riding trails on the Canaan Conservation Trail Loop.  Trail has springs, creek crossings, and an old cemetery.  I’ve not ridden this trail but it’s reported that boots/shoes/hoof protection is a good idea due to rocky terrain.  Read more and view trail maps (PDF) at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Canaan

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Castlewood State Park:   (13.50 trail miles)   (Ballwin, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. Castlewood State Park has two equestrian trails, the popular Chubb Trail, with connections to two St. Louis County parks, and the Grotpeter Trail, which heads uphill to the top of a long ridge. Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks – Castlewood

Castor River Conservation Area:  (11.2 trail miles)  (Zalma, Missouri)  – View on Google Maps.  From the website: “Castor River CA is nearly all forest with several small springs scattered across the area, including Blue Pond Natural Area. Blue Pond is the deepest natural pond in Missouri at more than 65 feet deep. It’s believed to have been formed from a cavern collapse during the New Madrid earthquake in 1811.

Facilities/features at Castor River CA include primitive camping, multi-use trails for hiking, biking and horse riding, numerous intermittent streams and one permanent stream.”  The Blue Pond area is at the 2.94 mile mark.  Read more and view trail maps (PDF) at Horse Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Castor River

Forest 44 Conservation Area:  (5 trail miles)  (High Ridge, Missouri)  – View on Google Maps.  From the website: “You might think of Forest 44 as your “Gateway to the Ozarks” from St. Louis County. It lies right along I-44 corridor that conveys travelers to some of the Show-Me State’s most scenic places. Several springs on the area feed Williams Creek, which flows along the eastern portion of Forest 44.

Flowering dogwood and redbud trees add to the area’s natural beauty, especially in the springtime. Hiking, wildlife viewing, and horseback riding are popular activities. An extensive and intertwining trail system covers the area. The Dogwood Ridge trail is reserved for hikers, while the rest of the trails will satisfy both hikers and riders.”  Read more and view trail maps (PDF) at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Forest 44

Gist Ranch Conservation Area:  (unknown trail miles)  (Yukon, Missouri)  – View on Google Maps.  Multi-use hike / bike / equine trails.  Read more and view trail maps (PDF) at Horse Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Gist Ranch

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Holly Ridge Conservation Area:  (3.9 trail miles)  (Bloomfield, Missouri)  – View on Google Maps.  Multi-use hike / bike / equine trails.  Read more and view trail maps (PDF) at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Holly Ridge

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park:   (10.00 trail miles)   (Middlebrook, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. I have been to this park many times – this is one of the most beautiful Missouri state parks with many outdoor activities. This is one of my favorite parks, but I haven’t ridden the trails yet so have no first-hand knowledge of them. Riders can enjoy some of the state park system’s most spectacular scenery on the 10-mile Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail at Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park. The trail passes through a 5,000-acre wild area with several rocky creek crossings. Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks Camping – Johnson’s Shut-Ins

Lake Wappapello State Park:   (12.75 trail miles)   (Williamsville, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. It is recommended that you travel this trail counter clockwise. You can experience shoreline views, open fields and cherty Ozark hillsides. The trail leaves park property and crosses other public lands. There are connectors to other public trails. Certain portions of the trail are closed to overnight camping and overnight equestrian use is not allowed. The trailhead at the end of Wappapello Trail Road has a large equestrian trailer parking lot. Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks – Lake Wappapello

Little Indian Creek Conservation Area:  (unknown trail miles)  (Sullivan, Missouri)  – View on Google Maps.  Primitive camping – unsure if there are horse camping amenities so call in advance (this park requires 10 day notice for camping).  This Missouri state parks camping area is well maintained.  Most trails are multi-use old logging roads.  Read more and view trail maps (PDF) at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri Conservation Areas – Little Indian Creek

Little Lost Creek Conservation Area:  (6.4 trail miles)  (Warrenton, Missouri)  – View on Google Maps.  Small bluffs and waterfalls along the partially spring-fed creek make for nice views.  Multi-use hike / bike / horse trails.  I found this by word of mouth, and unfortunately don’t have a link for the area. 

Route 66 State Park:   (7.25 trail miles)   (Eureka, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. The trails at Route 66 State Park mostly follow old roadways, so riding is permitted in all weather. Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks – Route 66

St. Francois State Park:   (10.50 trail miles)   (Bonne Terre, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. This trail traverses much of the undeveloped 2,256-acre Coonville Creek Wild Area. It includes a southern loop and a northern loop, which are connected by white connector 1, which is marked with white blazes.

In addition, there is a .60-mile backpack camp spur located on the south loop. This moderately difficult trail contains water crossings and steep inclines in some places. This trail illustrates the type of wild, undeveloped landscape that characterizes wild areas in state parks. Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks – St. Francois

St. Joe State Park:   (17.00 trail miles)   (Park Hills, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. Two equestrian trails – the Pine Ridge Trail is a 13 mile loop, and the Hickory Ridge Trail is a 4 mile loop, both of which intersect with other trails. Near the Pine Ridge Trail is the Equestrian Staging Area which includes a paved parking lot to accommodate large rigs, picnic tables, barbecue grills, a vault toilet, hitching posts, trash cans and a recycling can. Campers in Campground 2 have access from the basic loop and the electric loop.

This park has one of the largest horse trail systems of the SE Missouri State Parks.  Read more at Horseback Riding Trail – Missouri State Parks – St. Joe

Sam A. Baker State Park:   (16.75 trail miles)   (Patterson, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. Riders are welcome at Sam A. Baker State Park on portions of the Mudlick Trail, which goes through the St. Francois Mountains, one of the oldest mountain regions in North America. The trail goes from Big Creek Valley to the top of Mudlick Mountain. Equestrian campsites available.

This park has one of the largest horse trail systems of the SE Missouri State Parks.  Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks – Sam Baker

Trail of Tears State Park:   (10.00 trail miles)   (Jackson, Missouri) – View on Google Maps. This trail explores Indian Creek Wild Area, one of the most remote parts of the park. It consists of two loops with white connector 3 linking both loops, which is marked with black and white. In general, Peewah Trail is moderately difficult and offers a wide range of possibilities for both day use and overnight stays. Read more at Horseback Riding Trails – Missouri State Parks – Trail of Tears

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