Park Trails

at Graham Cave State Park

Fern Ridge Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .30 Mile View map

Fern Ridge Trail passes through Graham Cave Glades Natural Area. Animals that live on the glades include the lichen grasshopper, slender glass lizard and the prairie lizard. The valley Fern Ridge Trail descends on is timbered and contains a rich variety of wildflowers. Surrounding the valley are picturesque sandstone ledges, often covered with lichens, mosses and ferns.

Fern Ridge Trail leads from the lower (south) parking lot near the playground to the intersection with Graham Cave Trail. Trail users can follow the yellow blazes on Graham Cave Trail passing an overlook at a wet-weather waterfall before leading to the entrance of Graham Cave.

This trail was built by park staff in the early-to-mid 1970s and is available for an experienced trail maintenance group to adopt.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
  • Wood or stone steps
  • Steep grades and inclines more than 10 percent
  • 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
.30 Mile 20 minutes, one way Linear Green (1. On the south side of the playground at the lower (south) picnic area; (2. At the Graham Cave parking area, south of the park office

Graham Cave Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .30 Mile View map

Graham Cave Trail’s natural surface section leads to Graham Cave, passing by an interpretive shelter with wayside exhibits and an overlook at a wet-weather waterfall. The paved section has a high degree of incline and leads directly to Graham Cave. Wayside exhibits are located in front of Graham Cave. Graham Cave Trail intersects with Fern Ridge and Indian Glade trails.

Graham Cave contained significant archaeological evidence to date its use as a shelter up to 10,000 years ago and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1966.

As hikers follow the natural surface trail to Graham Cave, they will be hiking along the edge of the Graham Cave Glades Natural Area. As part of the Missouri Natural Area System, this area still possesses much of the same character experienced by American Indians when they inhabited the region. Ascending from the valley, there will be views of sandstone ledges, often covered with lichens, mosses and ferns. Above the ledges are open, rocky glades. Plants such as prickly pear cactus, rushfoil, pinweed, rose verbena, fame flower, Missouri brown-eyed Susan, hairy lip fern and adder’s tongue fern are well adapted to life in the extremely hot and dry glade environment. Enjoy the hike back through time to the see the natural environment and the cave that helped man survive here for thousands of years.

The trail was built by park staff in the 1980s and is available for an experienced trail maintenance group to adopt.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
  • Wood or stone steps
  • 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
.30 Mile 15 minutes Loop Yellow (1. At the northeast end of the parking area near the interpretive shelter; (2. At the paved section midway down the parking area

Indian Glade Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .90 Mile View map

Indian Glade Trail leads to the entrance of Graham Cave. It connects the camping area and lower (south) parking lot and intersects with Woodland Way and Graham Cave trails and is near connections to Loutre River Trail. 

Historically, open oak woodlands dominated the rough terrain along river valleys. Although uniform in appearance, these woodlands can vary considerably depending on bedrock geology (sandstone or limestone), soil type, direction of the slope, and natural disturbances such as fire. As a result, they support many species including a variety of birds. Characteristic woodland birds include the wild turkey, summer tanager and the Kentucky warbler. Fire pink and yellow crownbeard are wildflowers that are part of the very diverse ground cover. Indian Glade Trail has many interesting sandstone and limestone geologic features.

Following the eastern section of Indian Glade Trail, there is a spur that leads to the cave roof, where sandstone glades are being restored. Please stay on the trail and back from the cave ledge.

Wayside exhibit panels are located at the campground trail access and in front of Graham Cave.

The trail was built by park staff in the 1970s and is available for an experienced trail maintenance group to adopt.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
  • Wood or stone steps
  • Steep grades and inclines more than 10 percent
  • Bridges and/or structural crossings
  • Bluffs or drop-offs next to trail
  • Road/highway crossing
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
.90 Mile 40 minutes, one way Linear Blue (1. At the paved path midway down the lower (south) picnic area; (2. At the Graham Cave parking area, south of the park office

Loutre River Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 2.25 Miles View map

Following the Loutre River, the trail travels along the river road as it heads to the north camping area. Experience a high quality example of a bottomland forest in the flood plain of the Loutre River. Among the characteristic trees of this natural community are bur oaks, with huge acorns that have shaggy-fringed caps, and Kentucky coffeetrees, with pods that contain seeds that pioneers used to make a coffee like drink. Below the tree canopy is an understory of pawpaws, Ohio buckeyes and spicebush. The trail parallels the Loutre River as you head from the boat ramp area to the north camping areas.

There is also a rich variety of wildflowers that includes the showy blue-eyed Mary and rare false mermaid. Wildlife includes birds like northern parula warblers and butterflies such as the zebra swallowtail. Periodic flooding from the river makes the soil of this bottomland community very fertile and productive.

Wayside exhibit panels are located at the campground trail access and the Loutre River boat ramp parking area.

The trail was built by park staff in the late 1980s and is available for an experienced trail maintenance group to adopt.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
  • Steep grades and inclines more than 10 percent
  • Occasional water over trail
  • Road/highway crossing
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
2.25 Miles 1 hour, 40 minutes Loop Red (1. At the lower (south) picnic area parking area, south of the park office; (2. At the Loutre River boat ramp parking area

Woodland Way Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .20 Mile View map

Woodland Way Trail passes through open oak and hickory woodlands. Historically, open oak woodlands dominated the rough terrain along river valleys. Prescribed burns and exotic species control are among management activities used to restore and maintain the oak woodlands at the park. These activities allow oak reproduction as a part of a healthy, diverse and resilient natural community that is preserved for future generations. This trail connects Indian Glade Trail to the upper (north) parking area just south of the park office.

The trail was built by park staff in the early 2000s and is available for an experienced trail maintenance group to adopt.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
.20 Mile 10 minutes Linear Orange

Upper (north) parking lot