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Missouri: Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
Posted on Thursday, January 25 @ 00:00:00 MST by iljiana

Horse Rentals & Day Ride Trails 5901 South Hwy. 163
Columbia, MO 65203 (573) 449-7402

Get away from the bustle of everyday life by seeing some of Missouri’s finest features such as the rock bridge or by exploring the forests, streams and restored grasslands of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.

While walking the half-mile Devil’s Icebox Boardwalk, visitors will pass both under and over the rock bridge, have the opportunity to explore Connor’s Cave on their own, and see an underground stream, small spring and sinkhole. The 15 miles of trails that traverse the 2,273-acre park are always open to hikers and are conditionally open to bicyclists. Hikers and horseback riders can enjoy the serenity of the 750-acre Gans Creek Wild Area. Before riding, visitors should call the trail condition hotline.
Groups can make arrangements to receive a rock bridge/Connor’s Cave tour or other interpretive programs. Devil’s Icebox Cave, with over seven miles of passages, can be explored on park-led wild cave tours by advanced registration only. The park’s orienteering course will challenge adventurous visitors.
Picnic sites, a reservable picnic shelter, and playground equipment make the park a great place for family gatherings. Primitive camping for non-profit youth organizations is available by making advanced reservations.


The Trail Condition Hotline, (573) 442-2249, allows you to know before you leave home whether the trails are open or closed to bicycling or horseback riding.
Devil’s Icebox Trail -- .5 mile Hiking
New section of trail opens in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park {photo of initial damage}
The park’s most impressive geologic features are revealed on this short walk that begins from the Devil’s Icebox parking lot. A boardwalk trail makes it easier to climb the 63-foot-tall Rock Bridge and eventually loops around to bring you back through the natural tunnel. To protect the resource, please stay on the trail. Features visible along the way include the valley that formed when the cave roof collapsed to form the Rock Bridge, a glade in the process of being restored, and the double sinkhole entrance to Devil’s Icebox Cave and Connor Spring.
The walk down the stairs to the cave entrance is refreshingly cool in summer months. Enough light enters the karst window to allow a short wade in the underground stream. Flashlights, helmets and good shoes are recommended for those brave enough to enter the darkness of Connor’s Cave, which lies downstream or to the left of the entrance to Devil's Icebox Cave. Devil’s Icebox Cave begins to the right or upstream from the cave entrance. Only those on park-led wild cave tours are permitted to enter Devil’s Icebox Cave.
From the caves, the boardwalk meanders through the woods and keeps visitors’ feet dry inches above the stream that flows through the Rock Bridge. Displays tell visitors more about the cave system and the area’s history. Additional information can be gained from using the Devil’s Icebox Self-Guiding Trail booklet, which is available for a small fee at the park office.
Spring Brook Trail -- 2.5 miles Hiking/Biking
This is a loop trail that begins from the picnic shelter and Devil’s Icebox parking lots. The eastern side of the loop provides the shortest route (about 1.25 miles) between the two parking areas. Spring Brook Trail winds its way through woods and old fields and along small brooks. Maple and sycamore trees grace the banks of Little Bonne Femme Creek, which is crossed twice. At the eastern crossing, a foot bridge provides a dry crossing and a nice view. The western crossing lacks a bridge. During normal water flow, a wade of a few inches depth is usually necessary or sometimes dry stepping stones are in place. During high water, it is not safe to cross. Spring Brook Trail is signed with red arrows.
Sinkhole Trail -- 1.5 miles Hiking/Biking
Sinkhole Trail begins at the Devil’s Icebox parking lot and follows an old road through the historic site of Pierpont and continues up a forested valley to a ridge top of old fields that is dotted with sinkholes. A spur connects with the Grassland Trail parking lot, while a connector route shortens the loop. The base of one sinkhole is gated to prevent someone from falling into a 30-foot-deep pit known as Hog’s Graveyard Cave. Sinkhole Trail is signed with green arrows.
High Ridge Trail -- 2.3 miles Hiking/Biking
The trail head and parking for High Ridge Trail is located on Rock Quarry Road near its intersection with Highway 163. This trail climbs to a hilltop and follows a ridge before descending to follow Clear Creek. Surrounding park lands can be seen clearly from the ridge. High Ridge Trail is signed with blue arrows. The use of a white connector trail reduces the distance to half a mile.
Grassland Trail -- 2 miles Hiking/Biking
The trail head and parking lot for Grassland Trail is located on Rock Bridge Lane. Native grasses, planted beginning in 1982, clothe the gentle terrain that is marked with scattered wooded sinkholes. Natural sinkhole ponds provide habitat for wetland plants and animals such as salamanders, wood ducks and bur reed. The trail is signed with blue arrows and has a white connector that cuts the loop in half.
Karst Trail -- 1.75 miles Hiking/Biking
Karst Trail begins near the intersection of Highway 163 and Fox Lane. The land is relatively flat with many scattered sinkhole depressions. Devil’s Icebox Cave is located nearby--only about 100 feet underground! On the eastern side, a large pond is filled with American lotus, which blooms around mid-July. A barn from the Ginn family farm still stands. The area has a three-acre remnant stand of big bluestem grass. Additional acreage was planted in native grass in 1995. Karst Trail is signed with red arrows and has a short white connector that cuts the loop in half.
Deer Run Trail -- 2.5 miles Hiking/Biking
Deer Run Trail begins from the northern picnic areas. The trail traverses up and down wooded hills along the park’s northwestern boundary. Then it descends to the flat bottomlands and runs along the banks of the Little Bonne Femme Creek, where it intersects Spring Brook Trail before looping back to its starting point. Deer are common in the area due to secluded woods and grassy openings. Signs of beavers and muskrats are sometimes seen along the stream. The loud calls of pileated woodpeckers and kingfishers are sometimes heard in the stream vicinity. Deer Run Trail is signed with yellow arrows.
Paxton Passage -- .5 mile Hiking/Biking
Paxton Passage begins at its intersection with Deer Run Trail near the northwestern boundary of the park. Paxton Passage leaves park property and travels on a strip of land donated by Richard Paxton to the Columbia School District in 1979. It connects to and can be accessed from the grounds of Rock Bridge Elementary School.

Directions to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
From St. Louis/Kansas City
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is approximately 130 miles from Kansas City and St. Louis and should take about two and one-half hours depending on traffic. From either location, take I-70 to Columbia, Exit 126 (Providence Road/Downtown). Go south through Columbia on Providence Road/Hwy. 163 approximately six miles. (Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site will be on the right between Stadium and Green Meadows blvds.) At the first traffic light after the road narrows to two lanes, turn left staying on Hwy. 163. Travel one mile; the park office and main park entrance will be on the right. The Devil's Icebox and Rock Bridge entrance is an additional mile and also on the right.
From Jefferson City/Rolla
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is about 40 minutes from Jefferson City and one and one-half hours from Rolla. From either location, take U.S. Hwy. 63 north. Approximately six miles north of Ashland, turn left onto Hwy. 163 (toward Pierpont). Travel three miles, passing the Shooting Star and Karst trail heads, to a four-way stop. Turn right staying on Hwy. 163. The Devil's Icebox and Rock Bridge entrance will be one mile ahead on the left. The park office and main entrance will be another mile ahead also on the left. (Continue to Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site....)
From Macon/Kirksville
From either location, take U.S. Hwy. 63 south through Columbia to the Route AC/Nifong Blvd. exit. Turn right at the top of the exit and go approximately three miles to Hwy. 163/Providence Road; turn left onto Providence Road. At the first traffic light after the road narrows to two lanes, turn left staying on Hwy. 163. Travel one mile; the park office and main park entrance will be on the right. The Devil's Icebox and Rock Bridge entrance is an additional mile and also on the right. (Continue to Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site....)
From Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site
Travel south on Hwy. 163 from the historic site. At the first traffic light after the road narrows to two lanes, turn left staying on Hwy. 163. Travel one mile; the park office and main park entrance will be on the right. The Devil's Icebox and Rock Bridge entrance is an additional mile and also on the right.

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