Park Trails

at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Gans Creek Wild Area Trail System

  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding

Length: 8.5 Miles View map

Trail Rating: Rugged

The solitude and scenic vistas of the 750-acre Gans Creek Wild Area allow visitors to forget the bustling city of Columbia is only a few miles away. Small streams dissect the hills and flow into Gans Creek, which is surrounded by high bluffs. The bottom and sides of Gans Creek are often solid bedrock while other stretches of the stream have gravel bars. Except during heavy rain events, the water flows slowly over riffles and into pools.  Spring wildflowers are abundant. Basswood and walnut trees grow on moist, shaded hillsides. Scattered white oaks grace more open forested areas. The rocky bluff tops have small glade openings filled with grasses and wildflowers. Coyote and Shooting Star bluffs provide vistas of hills and trees as far as the eye can see. 

To keep human impact at a minimum, this trail is not maintained at the same level as the other trails in the park. Horseback riding is permitted only from July 1 to Oct. 31 and only when trails are dry.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
  • Low hanging vegetation
  • Physically challenging obstacles
  • Steep grades and inclines more than 10 percent
  • Bluffs or drop-offs next to trail
  • Bridges and/or structural crossings
  • Water/stream crossings without bridges
  • 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
8.5 Miles 60 minutes per mile Loop Brown 1) At the South Rock Quarry Road parking areas off Highway 163 at the Gans Creek Trailhead (two trailheads and two parking areas off this road); 2) Off East Bonne Femme Church Road off Highway 163; 3) At the southern end of Bearfield Road in the northernmost part of the park