Hiking the Pinnacles in Mid-Missouri
Every year on April 5th, my little sister Emily and I make the trek around the main loop of the Pinnacles. We always have such a blast, that I wanted to share this hidden gem with ya’ll! While this trail is definitely not for the faint of heart – in some places you’re shuffling forward one foot in front of the other, hand on the rock wall to your right – it’s an enjoyable challenge with beautiful view. So if you find yourself in mid-Missouri and are up for a hiking challenge, I’d recommend checking this one out!
Located about 15 miles north of Columbia on Hwy 63, the Pinnacles are a 77 acre limestone cliff playground for adults and kids alike. There is ample parking, picnic benches and a shelter, as well as access to the creek and numerous hiking trails. The trail isn’t well marked, if at all, so getting to it can be kind of tricky. From the parking lot, follow the East Road, right after the foot bridge ends you’ll see a trail cut into the woods, that’s the starting point! The path meanders across a creek and along the base of the hill before climbing upwards for a quarter of a mile.
Once you’re to the top of the hill, the trail levels out and follows the ridgeline for another quarter-ish of a mile.
At this point, the well marked trail turns and basically stops, but the hike continues along/behind the large rock formations. This is the tricky part, as the rocks are slippery, there aren’t any railings or marked paths, and falling is easy (4/5/21 I fell while transitioning from one rock to another, 10/10 wouldn’t recommend). However, the views are BEAUTIFUL. It’s so rewarding climbing to the top of a formation, and being greeted by a beautiful view. We always enjoy sitting down, having a snack, and stay for an hour soaking in the sunshine.
The trail finishes off by picking up at the base of the rock formations, crossing the creek, and leading up the embankment to get back to the parking lot area. While the creek is barely knee high, be sure to watch your step, as the rock bottom is very slippery and uneven.
While Missouri isn’t exactly ‘known’ for it’s hikes, there are plenty of hidden gems if you know where to look! Now to recap what I’ve learned the past two years hiking at the Pinnacles…
The Pinnacles is a solid 3/5 stars on the difficulty charts. And by ‘the’ I mean ‘mine.’ For an avid experienced hiker, this may be on the easier side. For someone who is new to hiking and outdoor exploring, the rocky formations might be a little difficult. The perfect moderate hike
What To Wear
Tennis shoes or hiking boots with good tread, footwear you don’t mind getting wet! I’d also recommend wearing long pants – you can see above how Emily and I prefer leggings. I’ve seen poison ivy growing alongside the trail, plus long pants protect your legs against scrapes and scratches. If hiking in the early spring/fall, make sure to wear layers up top, as the upper formations can be pretty breezy.
What To Bring
Emily and I are big fans of a hiking backpack with our waters and protein bars, but you can also make the trip without a pack!
The Pinnacles, Rocky Fork Township, MO 65255
If you’ve ever hiked out at the Pinnacles, or around central Missouri in general, be sure to leave a comment down below so we can share trails!