Pinnacles Youth Park
Located about 12 miles north on Highway 63, Pinnacles Youth Park features towering rock formations and picturesque views. The 27-acre park includes a small camping area for youth and a few short trails for hikers. Visitors can climb “heart attack hill” up to the Pinnacle rock formations where they are rewarded with a view of Silver Fork and Rocky Fork Creeks.
Columbia residents enjoy traveling to nearby Rocheport for the wineries and local food, but the small town is also a haven for bicyclists. The MKT trail, or what used to be the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railway, runs through Rocheport and is now used as a fitness and biking trail. While enjoying the trail, visitors have a view of the Missouri River, and the option to eat and shop at Rocheport’s unique venues.
The Big Tree
A local icon, McBaine’s giant burr oak tree, is affectionately known as “The Big Tree.” The Big Tree is located in the middle of agricultural land farmed near the Missouri River, south of Columbia near the MKT and Eagle Bluffs Conservation area. Frequented by bicyclists and the occasional parachuter, the Big Tree is a cult favorite.
Three Creeks Conservation Area
One of the largest parks near Columbia, Three Creeks Conservation Area boasts 1,500 acres of land and three different park entrances. The land features rolling hills, creek bluffs and several caves. Outdoor enthusiasts can camp anywhere in the park, and the area is also horse friendly.
Home to the endangered Ozark Planarian (a free-living flatworm), Devil’s Icebox in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is a must see for locals. Visitors can choose to hike along easily accessible boardwalk trails or enjoy a picnic at one of the parks shelters. If visitors are feeling adventurous they can also sign up to take a canoe trip underground through Missouri’s largest cave system.
> all photos by Emily Adams