Now that fall is here, it’s the perfect time to go hiking. Luckily, the Ozark's has plenty of trails with beautiful foliage. Listed below are nine places close to Missouri State that are great for a day hike.
Springfield Conservation Nature Center
The Nature Center offers many great trails for quick, relaxing hikes with gorgeous scenery. It includes bridges that provide scenic views and take you across the James River. The Long Trail provides some of the best scenery, with a woodland area, prairie, glade and forest. There are two observation decks along this trail. One provides a view of Galloway Creek, and the other overlooks the forest. Keep an eye out for deer, turkey, mink, muskrat, reptiles and amphibians.
Length: 3 miles
Location: 4601 S. Nature Center Way
Galloway Creek Greenway
This trail runs south through Sequiota Park and the Nature Center and ends at the bridge overlooking James River. It connects to the James River Greenway and James River Water Trail.
Length: 5 miles
Location: Parking and trail access are available at Pershing Middle School (2120 Ventura Ave.), Sequiota Park (3500 S. Lone Pine Ave.) and the Springfield Conservation Nature Center (4601 S. Nature Center Way).
James River Greenway and Trail of Honor
The James River Greenway has three 1-mile segments that offer scenic views of the lake, bluffs, river and prairies. One segment has a loop to and from Sequiota Park, and another segment runs along the north bank of Springfield Lake Park, starting at the park entrance and ending at the boathouse on the lake shore. There is also a new trail section called the Trail of Honor that weaves along the banks of the James River and through the edge of the Missouri Veterans Cemetery.
Length: 2.7 miles total, three segments
Location: Parking and trail access are available at Southwood Access & Trailhead (5201 S. Southwood Road), Springfield Lake Park entrance or boathouse (5324 S. Kissick Ave.) and anywhere along Galloway Creek Greenway.
South Creek Greenway
This trail runs through the center of Springfield and links to many scenic stops including the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, Golden Avenue native prairie and the Springfield Botanical Center. The trail connects to Wilson’s Creek Greenway and Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park.
Length: 7 miles
Location: Parking and trail access are available at McDaniel Park Trailhead (2405 S. National Ave.), Nathanael Greene Park/Close Memorial Park (2400 S. Scenic Ave.), Tal's Trailhead (3351 S. Kaufman Road) and the Volunteer Nature Trail section (4458 W. Farm Road 68).
Lost Hill Park Trail
Neighboring the South Creek Greenway trail, the Lost Hill Park trail is a wooded loop trail with rolling hills, wildflowers, fossils, bluffs, caves, bridges and more.
Length: 2.8 miles
Location: 4705 N. Farm Road 151
Ward Branch Greenway
One segment of this trail connects Wanda Gray Elementary School to River Bluff Cave Archeology Museum and is wooded and scenic, weaving along Ward Branch Creek.
Length: 4 miles total, three segments
Location: Parking and trail access are available at Denny's (4760 S. Campbell Ave.), The Library Center (4653 S. Campbell Ave.), Wanda Gray School (2101 W. Farm Road 182) and Missouri Institute of Natural Science Archeology Museum (2327 W. Farm Road 190).
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
Wilson's Creek was the second major battle of the Civil War. It offers a trail system with five trails that lead to various battle sites, including Bloody Hill, The Historic John Ray House and the Edwards Cabin. The Visitor Center offers many Civil War exhibits.
Length: 7 miles total, five segments
Location: 6424 W. Farm Road 182
Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area
Busiek has two trail systems with a river, forests, grassy fields, woodlands, creeks and glades. Each system has three color-coded loop trails that range from 2-4 miles each. Elevation ranges from about 980 feet above sea level to 1,200 feet on the mountaintops. The purple trail has a scenic lunch stop Halfway through at the flat ridge. There is an old cemetery on the east loop off the red trail.
Length: 18+ miles total
Location: Trail access is on State Highway A off U.S. Highway 65, 18 miles south of Springfield
Frisco Highline Trail
Connecting Bolivar and Springfield, this is the longest rail trail in southwest Missouri. It runs over 16 railroad bridges that have been redesigned for trail use, including the 317-foot Highline Bridge at mile marker 25. At mile marker 32, you’ll see La Petite Gemme prairie, a native prairie covered in wildflowers.
Length: 37.6 miles total
Location: Parking and trail access are available at Springfield Trailhead (3845 W. Kearney), Willard Trailhead (211 E. Jackson), Walnut Grove Trailhead (820 E. Main), Wishart Trailhead (514th Road) and Bolivar Trailhead (800 W. Jackson)
Stracener, Layne. “The Best Springfield Hiking Destinations.” The Standard, 27 Mar. 2018, www.the-standard.org/life/the-best-springfield-hiking-destinations/article_5f1c1804-3166-11e8-9264-b39656e0fb82.html.