Mark Twain National Forest

Mark Twain National Forest – Cedar Creek Trail

The Cedar Creek Trail provides an excellent opportunity to view the restored lands of the 16,500 acre Cedar Creek Ranger District. Before 1940, private landowners intensively cultivated this land, resulting in depleted and eroded soils. In the 1940s, the Soil Conservation Service began purchasing and rebuilding it, stabilizing gullies and planting trees and grasses. It has been managed by the U.S. Forest Service since 1953, and now provides a variety of wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities in the transition zone between oak-hickory forests and tall grass prairies. Other activities in the area include backpacking, bird watching, hunting, primitive camping, and biking.

The trail is divided into 4 different sections and total length of the trail is 36 miles. 

The Southern Loop – Marked in grey diamonds crosses 22 miles of pastoral countryside. Two- thirds of the trail is cross-country; the rest is along gravel roads.

Trail Access

Burnett School Road – Hwy 63 South of Columbia to Ashland and then travel east on Hwy Y. On Hwy Y turn right on Burnett school road.  Turns to gravel road.  There are 3 low water crossings. Parking is on the south side of the Cedar Creek Bridge and accommodates 2 cars.

County Road 364 – Hwy 63 South of Columbia to Ashland and then travel east on Hwy Y. Turn right on county road 363 and then turn right on county road 364. The road will make a T, parking is straight on the edge of the field and accommodates multiple horse trailers or cars.

Clinkenbeard Road – Hwy 63 South of Columbia to Hwy H. Hwy H east to South Clinkenbeard Road. Travel south on Clinkenbeard to the T and turn left (east) on S Clinkenbeard Rd. Clinkenbeard will go south  and there will be a small parking spot on the right hand side. There is another small parking space farther south entering the University of Missouri Ashland Wildlife Area. Each spot can accommodate 2 cars parked on the edge of the road.

Smith Creek – About 6 miles in length between Boydsville and Rutherford Bridge, is marked in red diamonds. This scenic route provides glimpses of Cedar Creek from the bluffs above.

Trail Access

  • Rutherford Bridge – Hwy 63 South of Columbia to State Hwy H. Continue East on Hwy H through Englewood. Road turns to gravel and dead ends at the bridge. Trail begins on the east side of the bridge. Attention for safety, no horses allowed on bridge, hiker & bikers only.  Accommodates multiple cars parked.
  • Callaway County Access – Smith Creek Trail Head – Hwy WW west towards Fulton, left on Hwy J and left on county road 354. There are two parking areas. One is a trail head and the other is at the end of the dead end road.
  • Smith Creek – Boydsville Access –  Hwy WW west towards Fulton, left on Hwy J and left on county road 353. County Road 353 will fork, stay to the left to the trail access. Road will dead end. There is trail access and trail uses county road 353 for approximately 0.5 miles.
  • Trail Access – Paris Fork Church/Cemetery. – From Ashland travel east on Hwy Y to left on County Road 363. County road 363 will fork to the left, stay to the right on county road 361. Continue on 361 past the campground. Paris Fork Church is on the left at the end of the road. Trail is on the North side of the road.

Pine Ridge Section – Marked with grey diamonds, passes through Pine Ridge Recreation Area and is open to foot travel and mountain bikes only; no horses. A horse route is located to the west.

Trail Access

  • Pine Ridge Recreation – From Ashland travel east on Hwy Y to Pine Ridge Campground. Can accommodate multiple cars.
  • Dry Fork Recreation Area –  From Ashland travel east on Hwy Y to left on County Road 363. County road 363 will fork to the left stay to the right on county road 361. Day use and parking across road from the campground.

Moon Loop – Marked  with Yellow diamond, is about 7 miles in length. It is named for the moon-like appearance of the area caused by soil erosion in the 1930’s. The area has since been restored.

Trail Access

  • Barnes Chapel – Hwy 63 South of Columbia to Route AB (Deer Park) to  E Barnes Chapel Rd – Parking is on the right just past the church.
  • North Ginn Ln – Hwy 63 South of Columbia to Route AB right on North Ginn Ln –  Need high clearance vehicle for east side parking. Also parking on the west side, just north of the low water crossing. Accommodates multiple cars.
  • South Ginn Ln – Access to Moon loop is through pasture. From mid-April – mid October cattle may be encountered.

Best Seasons: Spring and fall; Although suitable all year round. Beware of excessively wet times and freeze/thaw during the winter months.

Water: Seasonal at the Pine Ridge and Dry Fork trailheads. (Typically on from April – October)

Restrooms: Only located at Dry Fork and Pine Ridge trailheads

Primitive campgrounds are located at Pine Ridge and Dry Fork.  Amenities include pressurized drinking water, vault toilets and picnic areas. No camping fees, but donations are encouraged. Please note that the campgrounds are closed from August 29, 2021 until April 15, 2022 per their facebook page

Safety: During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects, poison ivy and high temperatures. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods. Trail crosses some fields where cattle graze from mid-April to mid-October. Be aware of hunting seasons and take appropriate precautions.

Trail Stewards

Nate Smith, Yvonne Buchheit, Penny –