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Top 10 Bike Trails in Missouri

Map of top 10 places to bike in Missouri.

Missouri has some of the most fantastic biking destinations in the nation! The Show-Me-State is well-known for its gorgeous landscape featuring majestic rivers, limestone bluffs, serene prairies and farmland, and rolling hills. Whether you want to bike in one of the state’s bustling cities or you prefer to get out in nature, check out these top-rated places to bike in Missouri.

1. Katy Trail State Park – Clinton to Machens, MO

The Katy Trail State Park is the longest-developed rail trail in the country. Stretching 240 miles across the state of Missouri, more than half of the route follows Lewis and Clark’s path up the Missouri River. It’s the perfect way to explore Missouri, enjoy nature, and learn more about the state’s history.

As you follow the river, you’ll bike beneath gorgeous limestone bluffs and you’re likely to see an eagle or two as they sail through the skies above! Much of the route weaves through stunning natural areas featuring rural farmland, rolling hills, prairies, and more than 40 quaint little towns that prospered due to their proximity to the railroad. With 26 trailheads and four fully restored railroad depots along the way, Katy Trail State Park is perfect for families, beginner cyclists, or advanced riders on a cross-country journey.

Visit the Missouri State Park’s website to view all the route’s trailheads and plan your ride.

Tips: The Rock Island Trail intersects the Katy Trail at Windsor and is another popular route. It runs 47 miles from Windsor to Pleasant Hill and then, after a short gap, continues from Lees Summit to Kansas City. Ultimately, it will span 200 miles and form a complete loop with the Katy Trail.

2. Riverfront Heritage Trail – Kansas City, MO

The paved 15-mile Riverfront Heritage Trail begins at downtown Kansas City’s edge along the riverfront. It rolls through the Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park and then meanders through the oldest and most historic parts of bi-state Kansas City.

This biking route has a little bit of everything, and it’s a fantastic way to experience Kansas City’s cultural, historical, and recreational resources. It links parks, communities, local attractions, public artwork installations, and more. Along the riverfront, the trail also branches off to various areas, giving cyclists the ability to quickly hop on and off the trail to explore nearby areas and attractions, like the River Market, the Town of Kansas Bridge, and unique local shops.

Start your ride at the Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park for a full experience of everything this trail offers.

Tips: Break for a drink or lunch near the River Market, where you’ll find plenty of great eateries. Whether you want Vietnamese food, Brazilian fare, American eats, bubble tea, or something else, you’ll have no shortage of options in this area.

3. The Ozark Trail – Leasburg to Birch Tree, MO

The Ozark Trail allows bicyclists to ride up to 262 miles miles of designated National Recreation Trail across the state of Missouri, offering a one-of-a-kind long-distance cycling adventure through the midwest. 

The Ozark Trail comprises 13 different sections. Although most of the sections connect, there are a few gaps throughout. It meanders through the rolling hills of southeast Missouri. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to visit Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and enjoy close-up views of some of the state’s most majestic wonders, including Mina Sauk Falls, Devil’s Tollgate, and Johnson’s Shut-Ins. This rugged route is also a great way to get well-acquainted with Missouri’s wildlife, including eagles, deer, turkey, bobcats, bears, and potentially even the state’s only herd of wild horses. 

You can start cycling this trail from many different areas. Visit the official Ozark Trail website to plan your journey.

Tips: Eventually, this route will also connect the St. Louis metro area to the Ozarks Highland Trail at the Arkansas border, forming a 700-mile thru-trail.

4. Bear Creek Trail – Columbia, MO

The Bear Creek Trail is a 4.8-mile trail in northern Columbia that follows Bear Creek for most of the route, winding through rustic and wild wooded areas, although you’re never far from the surrounding neighborhoods.

This well-loved route links two of the city’s most popular parks: Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area and Albert-Oakland Park. As you bike its wide limestone trail, you’ll enjoy natural wetland areas and beautiful rock outcroppings, and you’re also bound to encounter some local wildlife. (The area is known for beavers, tortoises, rabbits, birds, and other wetland creatures!) The route also features a beautiful 450-foot boardwalk and a couple of fenced-in dog park areas where you can let your dog run free.

You can bike this trail in either direction, starting from the west end at the trailhead in Cosmo Park or the east end at the trailhead in Albert-Oakland Park.

Tips: Although certain areas right off this route offer off-leash spaces for dogs, you must leash your furry friend while they’re on the trail itself.

5. Table Rock State Park – Branson, MO

Table Rock State Park is a 356-acre park that’s just a short drive from the famous tourist town, Branson. It’s home to adventurous paved and mountain biking trails for cyclists of all interests and skill levels.

Bike the Chinquapin Trail (1.2 miles) for a relatively flat yet scenic sampling of the Ozark woodlands and meadows. Alternatively, the paved Table Rock Lakeshore Trail (4.4 miles) runs along the shore of Table Rock Lake, offering gorgeous water views and frequent run-ins with local wildlife, such as eagles, loons, and ospreys. For mountain bikers seeking an adventure, the White River Valley Trail System (11.3 miles) is a challenging biking route through the natural terrain of the Ozarks. With elevations ranging from 710 feet to nearly 1,200 feet above sea level, the rugged trail is divided into four loops, each appealing to different interests and preferences.

Table Rock Lake State Park is off Highway 165 on the south side of Branson, but you can find detailed information about trailheads on the Missouri State Parks website.

Tips: This state park is also a prime fishing and boating destination, and there are two campgrounds for cyclists who want to make it a multi-day trip.

6. Frisco Highline Trail – Springfield, MO

The Frisco Highline Trail spans 35 miles from Springfield to Bolivar. It’s a designated National Recreation Trail and offers a peek into the history and culture of the Missouri Ozarks.

This trail follows old railroad tracks as it winds through the heart of the Ozarks. As you ride, you’ll pass through small-town Americana, wooded landscapes, pastures, and across 16 historical railroad bridges. You’ll also encounter several points of interest, including 7C’s Winery, La Petite Gemme Prairie (a rare native tallgrass prairie), the Polk County Museum, and fascinating educational kiosks about the area’s history. About a third of the route is paved, with the remainder being crushed gravel, but it’s primarily flat, making it ideal for families and cyclists of all skill levels.

The Frisco Highline Trail has trailheads in Springfield, Ritter Springs, Willard, Walnut Grove, Wishart, and Bolivar, so you can easily hop on the trail from several areas.

Tips: If you need to rent a bike for the ride, there’s a bike rental shop with shuttles, food, and drinks about six miles from Springfield at the Willard trailhead.

7. St. Louis Riverfront Trail – St. Louis, MO

The paved 12-mile St. Louis Riverfront Trail is a joy for history buffs and cyclists alike. This trail is a must-see, beginning just south of the Gateway Arch downtown and bordering the west bank of the Mississippi River.

As you begin your journey, you’ll want to stop and look at the colorful graffiti wall along the left side of the trail before following the path along the riverfront next to the iconic arch. You’ll also pass the Lewis and Clark statue on the river adjacent to the route, which is worth a stop! As the trail continues out of downtown into more of an industrial area, you’ll pass more large concrete walls, home to more fascinating art installations. Interpretive signage along the way also encourages you to learn more about the history and industry of the St. Louis area. The trail ends at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.

The north trailhead is off Riverview Drive near the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. The south trailhead is downtown at S. Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd. and Chouteau Ave.

Tips: There are several nearby attractions to check out in downtown St. Louis aside from the Gateway Arch, including Citygarden Sculpture Park, Busch Stadium, The Field House Museum, and of course, plenty of great places to grab a bite to eat after your ride!

8. Lake of the Ozarks State Park – Kaiser, MO

Tucked away in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, you’ll find incredible mountain biking opportunities, with several rugged and adventurous trails to explore! The park is home to 13 different routes, inviting bicyclists, hikers, and runners to enjoy the beautiful natural landscape.

One of the most popular mountain biking routes at Lake of the Ozarks State Park is Honey Run, a 14.2-mile loop with about 1,400 feet of climbing. It’s technically three trails in one, offering a fast and run route through the thickly wooded oak forest and wrapping around the Honey Run Creek. It features a few rocky sections with mostly flowy singletrack trails.

Please visit the Missouri State Parks website for directions to the Honey Run Trailhead.

Tips: Bring plenty of water and bug spray on this mountain biking adventure. You’ll need both!

9. Two Rivers Bike Park – Highlandville, MO

Two Rivers Bike Park is one of the best mountain biking trail systems in the midwest. The 400-acre park offers 15 miles of trails (and more on the way), featuring thrilling climb and drop sections, rock features, built-in curved walls, and more. There’s a little bit of something here for every cyclist, from beginners to experts.

This trail system borders the James River, offering scenic views of the water and incredible valley vistas. The Scout Beginner Trail (0.5) is perfect for beginners or anyone who wants a more leisurely ride. It starts downhill, goes through a few berms, and then opens up and wraps around the edge of a field before connecting with the West Loop. Experienced riders looking for a technical challenge should check out the Bluffline Trail (0.5 miles). Rocks, roots, and manmade features make this route significantly challenging, even for the most experienced cyclists!

To get to Two Rivers Bike Park, head to 5055 Two Rivers Rd, Highlandville, MO 65669.

Tips: The bike park is also home to a professional-length disc golf course for anyone who wants to play.

10. MKT Nature and Fitness Trail – Columbia, MO

The MKT Nature and Fitness Trail is a 9-mile trail that connects Columbia and the Katy Trail State Park. It features a crushed stone surface and is built on the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) rail line, partly to service the students and faculty of the University of Missouri.

This trail starts just a short way from Columbia’s charming downtown area and hugs the west end of the University of Missouri Campus before meandering out into a more serene natural area. This part of the trail is much more rural, with quaint wooden bridges that pass over bubbling creek crossings, incredible canopied sections, and views of the scenic Missouri countryside.

There is street parking on S. Fourth Street near the downtown Columbia trailhead. Or, you can park at the southern trailhead parking lot near the Columbia Water Plant.

Tips: The MKT Trail connects to the County House Trail, which provides access to the Twin Lakes Recreation Area, and the Hinkson Creek Trail, which you can bike to get to the Grindstone Nature Area and Stephens Lake Park.

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References:

  1. https://bikekatytrail.com
  2. https://modnr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=f088462639764b22bec2907d450691af 
  3. https://kcparks.org/places/riverfront-heritage-trail/ 
  4. http://kcrivertrails.org/home/ 
  5. https://www.nrtdatabase.org/trailDetail.php?recordID=3961 
  6. https://www.como.gov/trails/bear-creek-trail/ 
  7. https://www.traillink.com/trail/bear-creek-trail-(mo)/ 
  8. https://mostateparks.com/park/table-rock-state-park 
  9. https://ozarkgreenways.org/explore/greenway-trails/frisco-highline-trail/
  10. https://www.traillink.com/trail/st-louis-riverfront-trail/
  11. https://mostateparks.com/sites/mostateparks/files/TrailDetails-HoneyRunTrail.pdf 
  12. https://www.mtbproject.com/directory/8012564/two-rivers-mountain-bike-park 
  13. https://www.trailforks.com/region/two-rivers-bike-park/ 
  14. https://trailspring.org/two-rivers/
  15. https://www.traillink.com/trail/mkt-nature-and-fitness-trail/ 

Photo Sources:

Carl Belken, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Kbh3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tequask, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
LaughingOutLoudICON, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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