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Gans Creek Main Loop



6.6 mile 10.6 kilometer point to point
95% Runnable


Ascent: 650' 198 m
Descent: -635' -194 m
High: 846' 258 m
Low: 626' 191 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)


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Map Key

A nice loop marked with brown blazes.

Tim Thomas

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Runner Notes

Loose rock and multiple easy stream crossings when the water level is down make this a challenging route, but not an unpleasant one.


From the entrance at Rock Quarry parking lot, the trail begins with a nice ascent to the Gans Creek overlooks; there are many throughout the trail, along with multiple easy creek crossings when the water level is down. The creek itself is a smooth limestone bedrock, and the bluff overlooks of it are very nice.

This is a relatively quiet trail; if you're out there for a couple hours, you may see 5-10 people max. There is a bit of vegetation overgrowth on northern end of the loop and on the outer south loop from Shooting Star Trailhead (not shown on this route which cuts through to the campground). There is a vault toilet at the campground. The trail is marked for hiking/horses, but horse riders have restricted dates. The trail is marked with brown blazes, although there are two unmarked trails on the way, one off of the far north loop and one near campground.

It is recommended that you bring a trail map (the park map can be downloaded here or use the Trail Run Project mobile app. Enjoy.

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Land Manager: Missouri State Parks Department

Mar 18, 2020: COVID-19

Feb 21, 2020: Be Bear Aware

Feb 18, 2020: Learn2 Programs

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Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 7 votes


  4.1 from 7 votes
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Trail Rankings


in Missouri


32 Views Last Month
1,067 Since Nov 22, 2016



There are a couple of bluffs off trail that provide excellent views below.  This is one of them.
Dec 6, 2019 near Columbia, MO
One of the few creek-crossings you'll encounter on this loop!
Dec 11, 2019 near Columbia, MO
Starting down the trail, enjoy its smooth surface and pleasant forest views.
May 10, 2017 near Columbia, MO
The trail makes a sharp right and follows blazes with the number three.
May 10, 2017 near Columbia, MO
High Ridge Trailhead is marked by this sturdy sign.
May 20, 2017 near Columbia, MO
The trail periodically treads alongside Gans Creek.
May 10, 2017 near Columbia, MO


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