GET OUTSIDE IN COLUMBIA
With 63 miles of trails and dozens of parks, there’s always something to do in and around Columbia. Whether you love disc golf or discovering new places to ride your bike, it’s all here and an easy way to explore while taking health and safety precautions.
If you’re close to others while outside, please don’t forget to wear your mask (ordinance enforced), watch your distance and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
Finger Lakes and Rock Bridge Memorial State Parks promise adventure after adventure. At Finger Lakes, thrill seekers will find trails and motocross tracks amongst the rolling hills, as well as opportunities to kayak, paddle board or canoe. When visiting Rock Bridge, hikers can trek popular trails and caves like Devil’s Icebox.
If you’re tired of willing your own garden to grow, come admire the seasonal wonders of Shelter Gardens. It’s home to more than 300 varieties of trees and shrubs and 15,000 annual and perennial flowers, making it the perfect place for a socially distant photoshoot. Among its five acres is a sensory garden for the visually impaired, a waterfall and reflecting pool, a Vietnam Veterans memorial and more.
Walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists of all ages and fitness levels will love the trails Columbia has to offer. The 8.9-mile-long MKT Nature and Fitness Trail was ranked second-best urban trail in the nation in 2015 by USA Today and links to the Katy Trail, which goes all through the state of Missouri. The Bear Creek Trail links two premiere parks — Cosmo Park and Albert-Oakland Park — and is about 4.8 miles long. For a shorter excursion, check out the beautifully wooded, 1.7-mile Scott’s Branch Trail.
Whether you want to soak up the sun or take in the fall foliage, Columbia has numerous scenic parks that let you enjoy your socially distant time in the fresh air. Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area has an array of ecosystems, including marshes and glades. Its wetlands are home to migrating and wintering, as well as year-round residents, and the area is conveniently located along the Katy Trail. You may even see the bluffs’ namesake if you keep an eye out.
If you’re looking for a little outdoors time and then some, check out Cooper’s Landing. This marina/campground/music venue hybrid has food trucks, room to spread out and the most stunning sunsets over the Missouri River. If you come by trail, the MKT trail hooks up with the Katy Trail at Hindman Junction and Cooper’s Landing is about six miles more. In their own words, “we’re a little off the beaten path, but well worth the effort.”