Park Trails

at Big Oak Tree State Park

Boardwalk Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .70 Mile View map

This trail is on an elevated boardwalk that showcases many of the park’s natural communities and champion trees. The trail begins within a fire-maintained, wet mesic woodland community of oak, hickory, sugarberry and giant cane, then passes through a bottomland forest of bald cypress and pumpkin ash. The trail ends at an observation deck overlooking a marsh/shrub swamp community with swamp privet, buttonbush, swamp locust, and large black willows. The observation deck and elevated boardwalk afford the opportunity to be in the middle of a swamp without getting your feet wet. Benches are located approximately half-way along the boardwalk and at the observation deck. Water fountains are located at the beginning of the boardwalk and in the picnic area. Mosquitoes are common and can be very abundant during the late spring, summer and early fall. Insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts and pants will help make their disturbance minimal during your hike. 

You may experience:

  • Slippery conditions and/or downed vegetation
  • Bridges and/or structural crossings
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
.70 Mile 20 minutes, one way Linear Blue

At the interpretive center

Bottomland Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 1.5 Miles View map

This trail lies within Big Oak Tree Natural Area and is a portion of the park recognized as a National Natural Landmark. The trail gives you a glimpse of the old-growth, bottomland hardwood forests that once occurred along portions of the Mississippi River.  The trail loops through an oak-hickory forest and gradually meanders into a forest community of more wetland and swamp species such as bald cypress, overcup oak and pumpkin ash, plus many others. Slight differences in soils and elevation, where the lower portions retain more water or are seasonally inundated, allow these water-tolerant species to thrive, while at the same time inhibiting the growth of other species. The trail passes beneath some of Missouri’s tallest trees and past a few former state champion trees. Old age, disease, storm damage and a change in hydrology have taken their toll on many of the parks’ largest trees. Many magnificent giants can still be observed along Bottomland Trail. A few of these great trees may one day be state champions again. A short spur crosses connects the trail to the picnic area.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail
  • Bridges and/or structural crossings
  • Occasional water over trail
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
1.5 Miles 45 minutes Loop Red