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Park Trails

at Arrow Rock State Historic Site

River Landing Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .10 Mile View map

River Landing Trail was constructed in 2007 as a joint project of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources and the village of Arrow Rock, with grants from the National Park Service. Ongoing maintenance is carried out by the Manitou Bluffs Chapter of the National Lewis and Clark Trail Association and the Friends of Big Muddy.  The trail links the historic site to the 1.6-mile linear Lewis and Clark Trail of Discovery on the Jameson Island Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

River Landing Trail follows an old road bed and enters the refuge slightly about halfway down its length. A bridge constructed by volunteers crosses the remnant of the old river channel near the junction with Lewis and Clark Trail of Discovery. The Missouri River can be reached by following the Trail of Discovery south for .5 mile.

The river landing was the hub of Arrow Rock commercial activity and the site of several warehouses. By 1860, the Arrow Rock landing was one of the busiest river ports between St. Louis and Kansas City. Remnants of an old wagon road are visible adjacent to the trail. The decline of steamboat commerce after the Civil War and the shifting of the Missouri River away from the site resulted in abandonment of the area and closing the river ferry by 1927.

Following the record floods of 1993 and 1995, the area began reverting to bottomland forest and wetlands. Interpretive signs explain the history of the landing, cultural features such as the former warehouse sites and boat building yard, and the natural processes now occurring in the area. The trail passes a portion of the bluff from which Native Americans extracted flint to make their tools and points giving Arrow Rock its name. Beaver, otters and wading birds or signs of their activity are frequently visible in the old channel.

FInd the trailhead on the park map.
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
.10 Mile 5 minutes, one way Linear Blue Near intersection of First and Van Buren streets

Pierre a’ Fleche (Rock of Arrows) Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 1.5 Miles View map

This trail encompasses the southern half of the historic site. The trail was built in 1988 with assistance from Boy Scout troops. The trail traverses wooded areas, hollows and the bluffs above the Missouri River valley. It passes through the Spring Valley, where early Santa Fe wagon caravans reportedly made watering stops. Part of the valley was dammed and flooded as a swimming area in the 1930s and remnants of this feature may be visible as stone walls. The trail then follows the top of the river bluffs and the hiker can look out over the neighboring Jameson Island unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Due to the proximity of the federal wildlife refuge, hikers frequently spot deer and smaller mammals and a wide variety of birds including turkeys and bald eagles. The Missouri River, now a mile distant, formerly ran along the base of the bluff here. 

Near the southern edge of the site, the trail passes a historic quarry, used by early settlers for homes and structures built in the vicinity. Part of the trail follows the bed of the Boonville-Arrow Rock Road. Established in the 1820s, this road was used by some early Santa Fe wagon caravans and on Oct.14, 1864, the Confederate army of Major General Sterling Price followed the road on their way to attack the Union garrison at Glasgow. This segment of the trail passes by Big Soldier Lake, named for a chief of the Little Osage tribe who negotiated with the government at the Arrow Rock bluff in 1813. Waterfowl and shorebirds are frequent visitors to the lake. The Boonville-Arrow Rock Road was abandoned in 1922, when Missouri Route 41 was constructed.  Remnants of 19th century bridge footings are visible along the trail.

The trail has a natural tread surface and the hiker may experience rocks or roots, bluffs and drop-offs next to the trail, bridges and other structural crossings, stream crossings.

FInd the trailhead on the park map.
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
1.5 Miles 1 hour, 10 minutes Loop Yellow

Parking lot of Visitor Center