Equestrian Trails in the Ozarks: A Comprehensive Guide

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Equestrian enthusiasts like me can find a diverse range of trails to explore in the beautiful Ozark region. The Ozarks encompass parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, offering picturesque landscapes and exciting riding opportunities. This area is known for its rolling hills, lush forests, and scenic views, making it an excellent destination for a horseback riding adventure.

In this article, I will guide you through some of the most popular equestrian trails in the Ozarks, many of which can be found within State Parks and National Forests of the region. Along the way, I will highlight the varied natural beauty and terrain that the Ozark trails offer, providing a memorable riding experience for both novice and experienced riders. There’s no shortage of memorable experiences waiting for you in the Ozarks – saddle up and let’s explore these incredible horseback riding trails together!

Overview of Equestrian Trails in the Ozarks

As an equestrian enthusiast, I have had the pleasure of exploring the beautiful trails nestled in the Ozarks of Missouri. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways offers horseback riding enthusiasts 25.5 miles of designated horse trails spanning four different loops. These trails provide an enjoyable experience and are accessible to riders with varying levels of expertise.

Some of the equestrian trails available in this region include the ones at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, which has three horseback riding trails such as the 13.5-mile Trail of Four Winds. This particular trail is highly diverse, presenting riders with an opportunity to traverse nearly every type of natural community found within the park.

Knob Noster State Park, on the other hand, offers an equestrian trail system perfect for those who prefer a more structured riding experience. Similarly, the Lake Wappapello Trail in Missouri is another excellent option, with 12.75 miles of the pathway being open to equestrians.

Moreover, the Ozark and Ouachita Mountain region boasts a plethora of state park and national forest trails that are open to horseback riding. Many of these trails, along with most dirt roads located within the forests, provide remarkable exploratory opportunities for horse lovers.

The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest also offers various horse riding areas, ensuring that riders have multiple options to choose from, depending on their preferences and skill level. Each of these trails provide a unique and captivating equestrian experience that showcases the beauty of the Ozarks in Missouri.

In conclusion, the Ozarks region in Missouri is a haven for equestrian trail enthusiasts. From the Lake of the Ozarks State Park to the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, there is an abundance of trails and riding areas available to suit every rider’s needs and preferences. Experience the captivating landscapes and natural beauty of the Ozarks as you saddle up and embark on a memorable horseback riding adventure.

Popular Equestrian Trails

Lake of the Ozarks State Park

At Lake of the Ozarks State Park, I discovered numerous equestrian trails suitable for riders of various skill levels. The park offers over 15 miles of equestrian trails, which are well-marked and maintained. I enjoyed riding through diverse terrains, including limestone bluffs, hardwood forests, and grassy meadows. The park also provides a dedicated horse camp, ensuring a convenient and enjoyable experience for both me and my horse.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Exploring the Ozark National Scenic Riverways on horseback was a truly memorable experience. The park offers four designated horse trail loops that cover a total of 25.5 miles of trail. While riding, I enjoyed the beauty of this diverse landscape filled with springs, caves, and rivers. Accommodations for horses include several designated equestrian campgrounds, making it easy for me to plan my overnight stays along the trails.

Angeline Conservation Area

My visit to the Angeline Conservation Area was a thrilling experience for both me and my horse. With around 20 miles of multi-use trails open for horseback riding, we had the opportunity to trek through the diverse topography of the area, including rolling hills and dense forests. The equestrian campsite provided convenient facilities such as hitching posts, high-lines, picnic tables, and a vault toilet, contributing to a comfortable stay in this beautiful conservation area.

Guidelines for Equestrian Trails

Common Sense Rules

As an equestrian rider in the Ozarks, I believe it’s essential to follow some common sense rules while enjoying the trails. Firstly, it’s crucial to stay on established roads and traces, as cutting across the terrain creates a network of trails that may cause erosion and lead to other riders getting lost. Additionally, it’s crucial to only cross rivers at designated points to prevent erosion and deterioration of riverbanks, which can harm fish habitats. It’s also necessary to practice “Leave No Trace” principles, such as not littering, packing out what you pack in, and burying human waste at least 100 feet away from water sources.

Safe and Enjoyable Experience

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the equestrian trails, I follow several best practices. First, it’s crucial to plan ahead and prepare properly, checking trail conditions before heading out and choosing trails that align with my skill level. Additionally, I ride in a group or inform someone of my planned route and expected return time. While on the trails, I maintain a safe speed and keep a proper distance from other riders, especially when going uphill or downhill or around blind corners.

Equally important is caring for my horse, ensuring it is fit and well-rested for the ride. I provide appropriate gear, regularly check for potential issues such as saddle sores, and give the horse ample breaks for rest and water.

I also respect other trail users by yielding to hikers, bikers, and other horses, and by not disturbing wildlife or damaging the environment. By following these guidelines and remaining vigilant while on the Ozark equestrian trails, I not only protect the natural resources but also create a positive experience for myself and other trail-users.

Highlights and Scenery on Trails

Wildlife Sights

As I explored the equestrian trails in the Ozarks, I was delighted by the diverse wildlife that can be encountered. The area is home to numerous species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, adding to the thrill of the ride. Deer gracefully roaming, wild turkeys crossing the paths, and the occasional sighting of a fox or an armadillo are just a few of the magical experiences waiting along these horseback-riding trails.

Scenic Overlooks

One of the many rewards of riding through the Ozarks are the breathtaking scenic overlooks. These vantage points offer riders a panoramic view of the surrounding hills, valleys, and rivers. I particularly enjoyed the vistas on Trail of Four Winds, which meanders through Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The winding trails, punctuated by striking overlooks, provided an unforgettable riding experience and countless photo opportunities.

Native Vegetation

As I rode through the trails, I couldn’t help but marvel at the rich and diverse vegetation of the region. The Ozarks are a haven for native flora, including picturesque wildflowers in the spring and vibrant foliage in the fall. The oak-pine forests that dominate the landscape offer cool shade during the warmer months, adding to the overall pleasant trail riding experience. On the Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort trails, I admired the intricately marked, color-coded paths that wound through stunning landscapes filled with a variety of native plant life.

Trail Ratings and Activities

Hiking on Equestrian Trails

I’ve found that the Ozarks offer a variety of equestrian trails with different difficulty levels and activities for everyone to enjoy. As a hiker, I appreciate the well-maintained trails and the beautiful scenery the Ozarks have to offer. Some of the popular horseback riding trails in the Ozark National Scenic Riverway are also great for hiking.

When choosing a trail, it’s important to consider the trail’s rating. Generally, trail ratings are divided into three categories: easy, moderate, and difficult. Easy trails are typically flat and well-groomed, perfect for beginners and families with young children. Moderate trails may have some elevation gain and rougher terrain, requiring more experience and fitness. Difficult trails often involve steep climbs, technical sections, and challenging navigation.

Walking and Mountain Biking on Trails

Equestrian trails in the Ozarks are not just limited to horseback riding and hiking. Many of these trails are also open for walking and mountain biking. The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest has some of the best horseback riding trails, which also offer great opportunities for walking and mountain biking.

When walking or mountain biking on equestrian trails, it’s crucial for everyone to share the trail responsibly. As a biker, I always yield to horses and hikers as they have the right of way. By doing so, a safe and enjoyable experience can be ensured for all trail users.

In summary, the Ozarks offer a wide range of trail ratings and activities. From hiking to mountain biking, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Just remember to choose the appropriate trail according to your skill level and activity preference, and always follow trail etiquette to ensure a pleasant experience for all users.

Amenities and Restrooms

At the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, I found well-maintained facilities that cater to the needs of horseback riders. Many of the equestrian trails come equipped with horse pens at each campsite, ensuring that our horses have a comfortable space to rest after a long day of riding.

As I explored the trails, I noted that many restrooms were available at various points throughout the area. These restrooms were clean and well-kept, making them a welcome sight when nature called during my ride. During my experience at the Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort, the resort provided more than 125 miles of well-marked, color-coded trails for equestrians of varying skill levels.

Trail Maps and Guides: To help riders navigate the trails, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Brushy Creek Lodge offer easy-to-follow maps and trail guides with GPS coordinates. These resources have been instrumental in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable ride through the picturesque landscape.

Horse-Friendly Amenities: Throughout my trail-riding journey in the Ozarks, I found many horse-friendly amenities, such as watering stations for horses and hitching posts strategically placed at scenic points and rest stops. These amenities made it simple to take a break, snap a photo, or simply enjoy the view with my equine companion.

In summary, my experience at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and nearby riding facilities was enhanced by the attention to detail and the various amenities provided specifically for the comfort of both riders and their horses. From the clean restrooms to the horse pens and well-marked trails, I felt confident and at ease during my ride, able to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the region.

Maps and Navigation

Trail Maps

As an avid horseback rider, I always recommend having a reliable map before heading out on any equestrian trails. In the Ozarks, the Ozark Trail Association provides up-to-date trail maps for horse riders to help plan their adventure. With the use of GPS receivers, the association has managed to create accurate maps of the entire trail system which I have found incredibly useful.

Color Coded Blazes

When I’m out on the trails in the Ozarks, I particularly appreciate the color-coded blazes used to mark the trail systems. This makes it much easier for me to navigate my way through the various routes and keep track of where I am. In fact, a resort like Brushy Creek Lodge provides over 125 miles of trails marked with different color-coded signs catering to riders of varying skill levels.

To make the most of my riding experience, I visually match these easy-to-follow, distinct trail blazes with the trail maps I mentioned earlier. The combination of reliable trail maps and clearly marked trails gives me the confidence to explore the Ozark Mountains without getting lost or stumbling upon prohibited areas.

In conclusion, riding in the Ozarks can be a rewarding experience for me and fellow horseback riders alike. By incorporating accurate trail maps and easy-to-follow color-coded blazes in the trails, I can navigate my journey with ease, leaving more time to enjoy the picturesque surroundings on horseback.

Accommodation and Camping

Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort

I discovered that Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort is a fantastic option for horse lovers exploring the Ozarks. They offer very well-maintained equestrian trails which are perfect for avid riders. I found their cabins to be cozy and well-furnished, providing riders with a comfortable place to relax after a day on the trails. The resort also has various amenities, such as electrical and water hookups at their campsites.


During my research, I learned that there are several campsites available for those who prefer a more rustic experience. The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests has an excellent equestrian campground that offers 34 campsites with electrical and water hookups. Additionally, for those interested in primitive sites, there are numerous options available.

When camping in the Ozarks, it is important to follow the guidelines, which include staying on designated trails and county roads open to horse use. This ensures that the beautiful area remains intact for future generations of riders to enjoy. More information on trails and guidelines can be found at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways website.

Missouri State Parks with Equestrian Trails

Castlewood State Park

At Castlewood State Park, I can enjoy a great day exploring the park’s wooded equestrian trails. The picturesque surroundings provide a beautiful backdrop for my horseback riding adventures. A visit to Castlewood State Park is always a memorable experience.

Cuivre River State Park

Cuivre River State Park is another fantastic destination for equestrian enthusiasts like me. The park’s extensive trail system offers various trails to ride, catering to all skill levels and preferences. As I ride through the park, the beautiful landscape of rolling hills, forests, and meadows makes for an exhilarating journey.

Knob Noster State Park

Knob Noster State Park also has an equestrian trail system that I enjoy using. With 12.75 miles of Lake Wappapello Trail open to horses, I never run out of exciting paths to explore. The remote, wild areas along the 10-mile-long Peewah Trail at the park make for a thrilling riding experience.

Trail of Tears State Park

Finally, Trail of Tears State Park offers another excellent option for equestrian enthusiasts. The park features the 10-mile-long Peewah Trail, which passes through remote and wild areas, giving me a unique horseback riding adventure. The trails are well-maintained, making them perfect for an enjoyable day of exploring Missouri’s natural beauty on horseback.

Trail Reviews

After exploring and photographing the equestrian trails in the Ozarks, I wanted to share my experiences and help others find the best trails for their riding and photography needs. I searched for helpful reviews to create a comprehensive list of recommended trails.

  • Ozark National Scenic Riverways: This area offers four designated horse trail loops with a total of 25.5 miles of trails. Riders and photographers alike praise the picturesque landscape and well-maintained paths.
  • Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort: With over 125 miles of trails marked with color-coded signs, equestrians of varying skill levels can enjoy the scenic Ozark Country. Reviews mention the well-organized trail system and helpful guides with GPS coordinates.
  • Lake of the Ozarks State Park: The Trail of Four Winds offers two great equestrian loops for riders to enjoy. Riders often mention the well-groomed trails, lovely views, and the park’s convenient amenities.

Taking the time to read reviews and examining other photographers’ work helped me plan my visits to the trails and ensure a rewarding experience. The Ozark equestrian trails offer excellent opportunities for both riding and photography, so don’t miss the chance to capture the beauty of these landscapes.


In my exploration of equestrian trails in the Ozarks, I discovered a variety of options for horseback riders of all skill levels. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways offers four designated horse trail loops, totaling 25.5 miles of stunning scenery. As a rider, I appreciate the park’s efforts in marking the trails with color-coded blazes, ensuring an enjoyable and safe experience.

In addition to the national park trails, I found that Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort is designed for horse-loving guests, boasting more than 125 miles of marked trails catering to various skill levels. These trails also provide amazing views of the Ozark Mountains, which is an added bonus.

For riders seeking a more relaxed experience, Missouri State Parks offers equestrian trails in Castlewood State Park and Crowder State Park. Castlewood features the popular Chubb Trail and Grotpeter Trail, while Crowder State Park offers the picturesque Thompson River Trail.

All precautions should be taken when riding in the Ozarks, including staying on established roads and using designated river crossings to protect the environment and maintain the beauty of the area. As a responsible rider, I can appreciate the importance of preserving our natural surroundings for future generations of equestrians to enjoy.

In conclusion, the Ozarks provide a range of equestrian trails to suit different preferences and abilities. Each trail offers its own unique experience, highlighting the diversity and natural beauty of the region. As an equestrian enthusiast, I am excited to return and continue exploring these exceptional trails.