OUTDOOR ADVENTURES – TRAILS -2
Access to several trails are within a day’s travel of West Plains!
GRAND GULF STATE PARK
The 322-acre park, sometimes called Missouri’s “Little Grand Canyon,” has short trails, boardwalks and overlooks where visitors can get a view from the edge of the cliffs. There also are maintained hiking trails around the perimeter of the canyon, one of which is a mile long. See trail maps at mostateparks.com.
25 miles From West Plains
Take Highway 63 south toward Thayer. At Koshkonong, turn right on F Highway. After crossing the railroad tracks, turn left on County Road 377. Stay on CR 377 for 3.75 miles. This will be a dirt road. At W Highway, turn right. The entrance to Grand Gulf will be on the right in less than a half mile.
CANEY MOUNTAIN CONSERVATION AREA
Caney Mountain is a nearly 8,000-acre Missouri Department of Conservation-maintained area which includes opportunities for outdoor recreation and rugged terrain in a range of hills that can be viewed from a series of looping access roads. The Spout Spring Nature Trail offers hikers a 2.3-mile out-and-back opportunity to see Caney Creek up-close. It has an elevation gain of 147 feet and takes an average of just under an hour to complete. Other hikes (shorter and longer) are also possible in the area along various access and multi-use trails. For more information and trail map: https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/caney-mountain-conservation-area
DON WARDEN PARK
City-owned, this small park is home to the West Plains Community Garden and includes mostly shaded, short walking paths which wind through and around the perimeter. (On the corner of Lincoln Ave. and Olden St., West Plains.)
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION REGIONAL OFFICE
Within this 20-acre park, there are short hiking trails that wind through with different configurations possible. The trails feature a variety of grades and inclines and are mostly dirt and gravel. Narrow in some spots, they are not suitable for most wheelchair users or those who have unsure footing. There is an overlook deck that is accessible to all. (551 Joe Jones Blvd., West Plains.)
40 miles From West Plains
Take CC Highway for 22 miles to Highway 181 at Dora. Turn left on 181 and continue for 18 miles. Turn right on Caney Mountain Headquarters Road and travel approximately 1 miles. Continue past the parking area to Main Forest Road #1 for 1.5 miles to Spout Spring Trailhead.
GREER SPRING TRAIL
This .9-mile trail provides access to Greer Spring – the second largest in Missouri – and travels through a mixture of hardwoods and pines providing year-round forest beauty. It descends about 250 feet in elevation along a gentle gradient from the trailhead on Missouri Highway 19. The trail is maintained and relatively smooth, however there is a moderately steep incline down to the spring. For trail map and more information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mtnf/recarea/?recid=21722
41 miles From West Plains
Take Highway 160 east toward Alton. In Alton, turn left on Highway 19 north. Go 8 miles and the parking area for Greer Spring and Trail will be on your left.
GIST RANCH CONSERVATION AREA
Within this 11,000-acre area in Texas County, there are 12 miles of hiking/biking/equestrian trails divided into loops of various distances, most of which are relatively easy to navigate. Small springs and wetland habitats within the heavily forested area are host to abundant flora and fauna species.
42 miles From West Plains
Take Highway 63 north toward Willow Springs. Stay left on 63 North and 60 west at junction. At Willow Springs, take exit ramp for Highway 137 north. Continue right on 137 for 16.5 miles to Church Road (Road 4278). Turn right on Church Road for 0.3 mile to Nagle Road (Road 4450). On Nagle Road, turn left and continue for 0.2 mile to Ranch Road (Road 4552). Turn right on Ranch and continue for 3.5 miles to Gist Conservation on your left.
The Narrows (MORGAN SPRING FLOAT CAMP)
Also known as Morgan Spring Float Camp is part of the Mark Twain National Forest. Named for its razor back ridge between the Eleven Point River and Frederick Creek, this area boasts four large springs, including Blue Spring, Missouri’s 8th largest; much natural beauty; and a rich history. When you arrive, you will come to a parking lot and a gated road. After you park, the rest of the way is on foot (.7 miles, steep downhill). At the parking area, take the path downhill to the campground. After hiking about 0.2 of a mile the Blue Springs Overlook will be on your right. From Blue Springs Overlook you continue a half mile over a rise, uphill for a short way before descending again to Morgan Spring. Once you get to Morgan Spring there is a short, more level, 0.2 of a mile, loop trail that will take you down to the campsites and river access. mdc.gov.
55 miles From West Plains
Take Highway 63 south toward Thayer. At Thayer, turn left at the stoplight onto Highway 142. In approximately 23 miles, the entrance to The Narrows is on the left, just before crossing the Eleven Point River.