Park Trails

at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park

Equestrian Trail

  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding

Length: 6 Miles View map

Trail Rating: Rugged

From the parking lot, head southwest away from the park entrance. The path goes through a dense patch of eastern red cedar before reaching an intersection with a paved road. Cross over the paved road and continue straight. In the forest, look for the oak and hickory trees common in the dry mesic forest. In the summer and early fall, patches of butterfly weed, Ohio horsemint and black-eyed Susan can be found. The trail continues parallel to the road and past a picnic area. This area is dominated by young redbud and sassafras trees in the understory. Cross over another road (this is the turn for the Jacob L. Babler Outdoor Education Center) and continue north on a ridge, where the dry mesic forest has a dominance of white oak canopy with an understory of sassafras and dogwood. After passing some deep ravines to the left, the forest will level out and the trail will pass through patches of aromatic sumac, where maples and spicebush are the dominant understory trees, making this a beautiful area to walk through when the fall color is at its peak. Crossing over an intersection with Hawthorne Trail (hiking only), Equestrian Trail continues north as it begins to decline. 

Continuing downhill, there is a mesic forest, where ferns, mosses and more dense understory trees, such as pawpaw become dominant. As the trail levels out near Wildhorse Creek, look for views of the creek on the left. The canopy here contains large sycamore trees and an occasional rare elm. After passing through a patch of pawpaw trees and dense shrubs, the trail widens and crosses over a cement bridge. Just after the bridge, look to the right for a giant sycamore tree with a diameter measuring more than 18 feet and a historic bridge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Continue straight, now headed east, up a steep hill. 

At the top of the hill, the trail passes the historic stables. This building, although not an operating stables, is used by the park for programming during the summer months. Like all the historic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings and structures in the park, the historic stables building is a beautiful example of the stonework and woodwork the CCC men did when building the park. Continue straight, past the barn and stables on the right, as the trail continues downhill. Woodpeckers and other birds are common sights in this section of the forest. At the bottom of the hill, the trail crosses a wet-weather creek bed (and after rain, you may cross through some water). The trail continues straight, past a turn on the left for an old equestrian entrance to the park. 

Continue past Bates Picnic Area just before passing under a historic stone tunnel built by the CCC. Continue uphill and intersect with Dogwood Trail (hiking only). From here, users can continue straight or turn right. The white connector trail (see description below) goes to the right. Staying straight is the perimeter equestrian loop through the mature forest known as Cochran Woods. At the top of the hill is the Cochran Picnic Shelter on the left. This shelter, like the historic stables, was built by the CCC in the 1930s as one of the original structures in the park. Past the shelter, there are rocky dolomite limestone outcroppings on the hillside. Continue parallel to the road (on the left) to an intersection on the trail. To the left is the spur to the equestrian entrance on Route BA (see description below). Continue straight to stay on the main perimeter trail. After a short distance, there is another intersection. Straight ahead is the White Connector Trail. To the left, the trail continues south on the equestrian perimeter loop towards the equestrian parking lot.

After a sharp right turn, the visitor center will appear at the top of a hill in front of you.  Eventually ascending from the low-lying forest, there will be a distinct difference in the type of trees and understory growth. After the  large sycamores, there will be oaks and hickories common in the mesic and dry-mesic forest. Just after passing through a patch of eastern red cedars, the trail continues parallel to Woodbine Trail (hiking only) until the paved path is reached. Continue on the paved path, going slightly to the left and passing under another historic CCC tunnel. Just after the tunnel, a trail to the right heads back the equestrian parking lot.

White Connector 1 Trail – 1 mile – White Blaze

This description goes from north to south

From where the white connector trail starts at the intersection with Dogwood trail, a trail goes right, along a portion of Dogwood Trail, through the mature forest known as Cochran Woods.  Dogwood Trail then continues straight at an intersection, where Equestrian Trail turns left, going downhill. The trail crosses Dogwood Trail one more time before approaching an old swimming pool. Veering left, Equestrian Trail then goes uphill and crosses Dogwood Trail yet again. Up and down these hills, there will be both winter and summer birds, who live in these woods. At the top of the hill, there is a fork. To the right connects with the perimeter loop, leading towards the equestrian parking lot. To the left is the spur to the equestrian entrance on Route BA.

Spur to Equestrian Entrance on BA – 1.25 miles – Brown Blaze

This spur crosses over the road and continues towards the main equestrian entrance to the park. On the right is the life-size bronze statue of Edmund Babler. The trail continues, slowly going downhill through the forest. At the bottom of the hill, it crosses a shallow creek bed before beginning to ascend again. As the trail enters a patch of eastern red cedars, there is an old paved road. These cedars provide both food and shelter for a number of small birds and are a wonderful place for bird watching in the winter months. The trail continues to the right on the old paved road for about 200 feet before turning left. The trail continues gradually going downhill, traveling through another patch of eastern red cedars, before exiting the park on Route BA.

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
  • Bridges and/or structural crossings
  • Road/highway crossing
Find the trailhead on the park map.
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
6 Miles 6 hours Loop Brown Off Guy Park Drive in the first parking area on the left past the River Hills Visitor Center