Trail Rules and Etiquette

Things to know before you go:

  • Missouri state park trails are generally open from sunrise to sunset. Some parks have gates that close every evening.
  • Ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes are common in Missouri April through October. Be prepared with insect repellant.
  • Know your physical capabilities when choosing a trail.
  • Always carry water to ensure you stay hydrated. Watch the weather and dress appropriately.
  • Read the information on the trailhead signs and maps to become oriented and aware of the trail terrain, length and special features.

Trail Rules

Please help to maintain and preserve the beauty of Missouri State Parks trails by following these rules:

  • Only hikers, equestrians, bicyclists and backpackers, as designated, are permitted on the park trails.
  • All pets must be kept on a leash for their protection and that of other visitors and wildlife.
  • Removal of plants, animals, rocks, downed timber, artifacts or relics is prohibited.
  • Cutting implements such as saws and hatchets are not allowed on trails.
  • No hunting or discharging of firearms is permitted.
  • All other rules and regulations pertaining to park use are applicable to trail users.
Additional Rules for Backpacking Trails
  • All backpackers must register at the trailhead or park office before starting their trip.
  • Groups of seven or more persons are permitted to camp only in designated areas.  While smaller groups are not required to use the designated areas, they must camp at least 100 feet from the trail, 200 feet from any major public use area, and at least one-fourth mile from the trail entry/exit point.
  • Campfires are prohibited.  Stoves will be needed for cooking.

The Ethics of Good Trail Use

  • Carry out what you carry in. If the trail users before you have not done this, you can help by removing their trash, too.
  • Keep your group small. Small groups are less likely to harm the environment.
  • Dispose of human waste properly. The top 6 to 8 inches of soil provide a system of biologic disposers that decompose organic material. Hikers should select a spot at least 100 feet from any open water; dig a small hole no deeper than 6 or 8 inches. After use, fill the hole with loose soil and tramp in the sod.  Nature will do the rest.
  • Stay on the trail.  Do not take shortcuts.  The trail has been laid out to minimize destruction of surrounding vegetation and to prevent erosion.
  • Avoid using a trail when wet.

Missouri State Parks is a proud partner of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and believes in the stewardship of America’s public lands. Join in our work to leave no trace by following these seven simple principles.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly (see above)
  4. Leave what your find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors