The Trip Reports of Zachary Nixon

Climbing and Hiking Excursions

Smith Creek Trail - Ashland - 6.1 Mile Loop


November 2, 2019 - First Trek

Smith Creek Trail was another featured trail that I found on REI's Hiking Project!  This trail is hilly, forested, and rocky with bluff overlooks. This is a nice trail that mostly winds through the forest, but some of the straight sections at the north side of the loop are on a gravel road for a short distance.  

The beginning of this trail is my favorite that I've found in Missouri, so far!  A very old bridge must be crossed on foot to access the actual trailhead.  Boards were missing and popping up as I ran, threatening to swallow my legs the whole way accross.  It was awesome!  This loop is 6.1 Miles point to point, with a total elevation gain of 630 feet.  

Wagon Wheel Loop - Columbia - 3.1 Mile Loop

November 3, 2019 - First Trek

After searching for featured trails in Northeast Missouri, I came across a loop off of the Gans Creek/Trail area called the Wagon Wheel Loop.  They say a tree grew up through the iron loop of an old wagon wheel, which is what gives the trailhead its name. This loop includes both blufftop views and easy crossings on limestone bedrock over Gans Creek.  Of course I had to trek through and find the wagon wheel, naturally!  

The trail was full of beautiful fall colors, running creeks, and wildlife in almost every direction.  The bluffs were no taller than 100' but they offered fantastic views of the creeks below!  I never did find the fabled Wagon Wheel, but enjoyed the area nonetheless!  This is a 3.0 Mile Loop, with a total elevation gain of 305 feet.  

Osage Trail to Clark's Hill - Jefferson City - 0.60 Mile Singleback

November 22, 2019 - First Trek

I actually found this trail purely out of curiosity after looking at coservation areas from a satellite view on Google Maps.  There are very few actual trails close to the city where I currenty reside, so finding something new can take a bit of investigating!  Once I found that there is a historical site located near the area I had honed in on, I set off to explore and see if I could a trail.  To my surprise, I ran into a trail near the edge of the Missouri River just outside the town of Osage.  Signs at the trailhead read Osage Trail - Clark's Hill Historic Site.  

Very excited that I had actually found a trail, and anxious to get started, I set out with no water or any additional equipment other than the clothes I was wearing.  Fortunately, the trail was only 0.60 miles one way, I would soon find out.  The terrain at first was very flat and smooth, but that changed very quickly after the first tenth of a mile.  I was quickly faced with a decent ascent on rocky terrain and wet leaves that made the hike a lot more interesting!  I decided to run instead, for better traction and time, as I still didn't know how far the trail would take me.  After a few turns I started to notice occasional informative signs, and even an indian burial cairn.  I was surprised to see signs in such great shape, considering this trail wasn't clearly listed on any websites or anywhere other than the sign at the actual trailhead.  They looked brand new!  I made it to the top of Clark's Hill, a point where the famous Lewis and Clark had camped during their expedition, and continued on!  The trail soon came to an end, where I found a large lookout point with several benches and endless views of the conservation area below!       

Osage Bluff Scenic Trail - Westphalia - 2.0 Mile Loop

Another gem found on REI's Hiking Project!  After searching for a trail close to home, I stumbled upon this loop approximately 15 miles from my home in Jefferson City. This loop leads to several bluff overlooks above the Osage River, and offers multiple lookout points and great scenery!  Along the way I found an Indian Burial Cairn, and several cliffs that were perfect for climbing!