JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF/KODE) — Missouri is home to many trails for all types of hikers, but one publication has pointed to a central Ozark mountains trail as perhaps the best around.
Paria Outdoors listed Big Piney Trail as one of the best backpacking trails in the Midwest. In 2022, Paria Outdoors featured Big Piney Trail in their “Hike of the Week” series.
Big Piney Trail is a 17 mile loop that cuts through the Paddy Creek Wilderness. Connecting the trailhead access at Roby Lake and the Paddy Creek Campground, the loop has a north leg and south leg that are basically separated by Little Paddy Creek. The wilderness is located 30 miles south of the I-44, between Rolla and Lebanon, making it one of the most accessible of the many Missouri hiking trails and wilderness areas.
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Paria Outdoors, who named Big Piney Trail as one of the best in the Midwest, had the following to say this Ozark mountain experience:
“If you’re looking for a traditional backcountry experience with no ‘luxuries’ of footbridges or established campsites, the Big Piney Trail may be a great spot for your next Midwest backpacking trip, and is certainly one of best backpacking trails in the Midwest. Located in the Paddy Creek Wilderness of south-central Missouri, this trail is relatively easy to get to for an overnight trip (17 miles altogether). It’s perfect for hikers of all skill levels with its minimal elevation gain (500ft at the most, though there are some steep sections along the trail).”
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According to Backpacker.com, Big Piney Trail makes for an easy overnight backpacking trip. It is hilly, but an easy hike with relief changes of generally less than 300 feet. It is a typical Ozark forest of hardwoods and pines with leaves covering the rock strewn ground. As with any hiking in the Ozarks, the summers are very hot, the vistas hidden due to leave cover and water will only be found in the major streams. Hiking is best in the fall, winter and spring when the views are plentiful, insects gone and temperatures nice and cool for sleeping.
Other Midwest trails included in Paria Outdoors “best of” list are…
- Red River Gorge – Kentucky
- Newport State Park – Wisconsin
- Isle Royale National Park – Michigan
- Shawnee Backpack Trail – Ohio