Park Trails

at Graham Cave State Park

Fern Ridge Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .30 Mile View map

Trail Rating: Rugged

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 narrow trail winds just below the ridge top then descends into a timbered valley containing wet-weather waterfalls and a rich variety of wildflowers. Bordering 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.

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

Trail Rating: Moderate

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 with an open front and wayside exhibits that define the history and natural communities surrounding the cave. Here, Indian Glade Trail ascends the sandstone outcroppings above the cave to the left, turning westbound toward the campground. 

A historic treasure, Graham Cave contained significant archaeological evidence to date its use as a shelter up to 10,000 years ago. The cave was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Visitors can learn about the archaeological research that revealed the early American Indian presence.

As hikers follow the natural surface trail to Graham Cave, they will be hiking along the edge of the Graham Cave Glades Natural Area. The trail intersects with Fern Ridge Trail on the upper bend. 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, prairie 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. It’s a hike back through time to the see the natural environment and the cave that helped man survive here for thousands of years.

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

Trail Rating: Moderate

Indian Glade Trail spans the central portion of the park crossing diverse woodland landscapes from the camping area to Graham Cave, Graham Cave Trail and lower picnic area. Along the route, the trail intersects with Woodland Way Trail, which offers a short hike to the park office and exhibit area.  

Historically, open oak woodlands dominated the rough terrain along river valleys. Although uniform in appearance, these woodlands often 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. Visitors should stay on the trail and safely away from the cave ledge.

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

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: 2.50 Miles View map

Trail Rating: Moderate

Named for the historic river with Boone family legacy,  Loutre River Trail starts near the picnic shelter at the lower picnic area, travels east to the river, then north along its banks with a 1.5-mile loop trail connecting to the campground. In the river basin, the trail passes a bottomland forest dominated by bur oaks and Kentucky coffee trees. Below the tree canopy is an understory of pawpaws, Ohio buckeyes, spicebush and wildflowers such as the showy blue-eyed Mary. Wildlife includes birds like northern parula warblers and butterflies such as the zebra swallowtail.

To connect with the 1.5 mile loop, hikers should park near the boat ramp and take the trail northwest along the river then north to the camping area, where drinking water and restroom facilities are available. Showy dogwoods are a treat in spring. White connector 1 is available to shorten or enhance the hike.

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
2.50 Miles 1 hour, 50 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

Trail Rating: Moderate

Woodland Way Trail connects Indian Glade Trail to the upper (north) parking area just south of the park office. 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.

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