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Backpacking in Eastern MO
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Chris Crowley
(8Crow) - F

Locale: Eastern Missouri
Backpacking in Eastern MO on 10/04/2011 21:30:05 MDT Print View

Hello all. Wondering if anyone has suggestions for a place to backpack and camp within an hour or two of St. Louis? Doesn't need to be anything too serious, I'm just trying to introduce my wife to backpacking and to her new hammock, which should be arriving any day. I'd appreciate any feedback.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
MO State Parks on 10/04/2011 23:59:34 MDT Print View

I've had a lot of good experiences in MO State Parks. For a one-night first trip, I'd suggest Hawn State Park. Cuivre River and Washington State Parks are also nice, but Hawn is prettier and has year-round water along much of the parts of the Whispering Pines trail. Also, with the trails set up as "stacked loops" and having connectors, you can tune your trip to whatever length you want... 2-mile out-and-back, 6-mile nothern loop, 10-mile figure-eight, etc.

There is an activity finder on You can see all the parks in teh region that have backpacking trails in the region (

Happy to answer any questions you might have on these parks.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Backpacking in Eastern MO on 10/05/2011 00:03:56 MDT Print View

There is always the KATY Trail. It runs parallel of the Missouri River, and just north of it. It's not exactly miles and miles of wilderness. There are little towns along the way.


Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Katy Trail on 10/05/2011 00:12:23 MDT Print View

I'd avoid the Katy Trail as it is known for being very high-traffic with lots of bicyclists. Personally, I don't think it's well suited for a first backpacking trip.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Katy Trail on 10/05/2011 00:37:46 MDT Print View

What? The KATY Trail has changed in the last 35 years? I'm shocked!


Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Backpacking in Eastern MO on 10/05/2011 01:25:38 MDT Print View


I'd also recommend Hawn State Park. A second option would be the Berryman Trail.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Backpacking in Eastern MO on 10/05/2011 06:39:21 MDT Print View

The Wilderness Trail at Meramec State Park is a nice one to introduce a person hiking. I'd avoid the Berryman in general but especially as a first hike. Its a well-used trail that gets a lot of equestrian and bike traffic but hasn't had enough maintenance to keep it in very good shape. Plus I really hate stepping in horse crap.

If you really want to get her hooked on backpacking, take her to Bell Mountain. The first mile coming up from Hwy A might be tough but after that it gets easier. Once you get to the top you forget all about it. Hang your hammocks on the edge of the glade and spend the evening enjoying the view, just remember to bring lots of water as there aren't many sources without going down into the valley below.

Does she like to float? You could hike from Onadoga State Park to Bass Resort on the Ozark Trail and then float the Courtois River back to your car, that's becoming an increasingly popular weekend trip since we completed the trail through the area.


Chris Crowley
(8Crow) - F

Locale: Eastern Missouri
Thank you! on 10/05/2011 13:55:44 MDT Print View

Thanks guys, I will check all those out! I'm anxious to see how she likes it...almost like starting a kid out with something, gotta do it right so you don't burn them.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Backpacking in MO on 10/12/2011 07:39:12 MDT Print View

Getting a little bit out there but I used to go to paddy creek by Ft lenardwood. What I liked the best down there was the Irish Wilderness area,which is more by popular bluff. Both of these areas are over two hours away from St Louis.

Brad Burr
(bradjburr) - M

Locale: Kansas City Area
Bell Mountain on 10/12/2011 08:55:08 MDT Print View

I would second the comments about Bell Mountain. Very nice place to spend a weekend. And you have the option of taking the short side of the loop to the top or the longer side.

Troy Pratten
(TJGator) - F

Locale: The Middle of Big 12-3+1 Country
Cuivre River SP on 10/14/2011 13:14:25 MDT Print View

My wife and I just spent a couple days at Cuivre River State Park in Troy and really enjoyed it. We were limited to car-camping, but we day hiked the Big Sugar Creek trail, which has a backpacking campsite on it. It's a nice hike, with some good fall colors coming in, but it's pretty dry right now--I don't recall seeing any water, actually. It shares a trailhead with the Cuivre River trail, which has two loops, a couple backpacking campsites, and a few cut-offs so you can customize your distance. The Cuivre River trail is also an equestrian trail, I think. Overall it's a nice area, though if I were backpacking it I'd make sure to bring in as much water as possible.

Ginger Allman
(gindavall) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Berryman on 11/18/2011 19:23:53 MST Print View

We just did the Berryman trail in March 2011. It's a well graded trail and an easy circuit (24mi) without any difficult terrain. I didn't find it to be poorly maintained, but then I hike in the deep Ozarks where the terrain would make a horse refuse to go. It wasn't crowded in March. We saw one hiker and six bicyclists in four days. But there aren't any spectacular sights and I suspect it might be a bit boring in full leaf as it's heavily wooded.

Even closer to St. Louis is Meramec State Park. There are lots of short hiking trails and one longer 7 mile loop that they say is a backpacking trail with a backpackers' camp. Not tried it though. But the area is quite pretty.

Jason Schafer
(jjschafer) - MLife
Bell Mountain Wilderness Trail on 12/19/2011 11:27:50 MST Print View

I highly recommend the Bell Mountain Wilderness.

Bell Mountain Wilderness Trail

My wife and I just recently did a quick over night out there in late October. I'm still introducing her to backpacking. It was beautiful and we both had a great time. From Hwy A it's 4 miles to the vista and 4 mile back. Waking up to the sunrise on the second highest point in MO is a great reward.

Bell Mountain Wilderness

The "Ozark Trail Trip Planner" is a great resource for hikes of any distance. In early November I went back and did a solo 45 miles over night hike in that same area.

Hope this is helpful.

Edited by jjschafer on 12/19/2011 11:35:14 MST.