Clifty Creek Natural Area is combined with Clifty Creek Conservation Area to preserve 486 acres of woods, creeks, bluffs, and glades. Located about 2 hours from St. Louis in Dixon, Missouri, this spot of nature is worth the drive to view the 40′ long natural rock bridge.
Clifty Creek Natural Area Trail
- Distance: 2.7 mile loop
- Difficulty: 3.5/5. Rocky and rugged in sections. Trail can be narrow and overgrown. Hills up and down along the route. Not recommended after heavy rain due to creek crossings.
- Scenic Value: 4/5. The view of the natural bridge and creek are great.
Reaching the Trailhead
The parking lot for the trail is located at 31825 Maries Rd 511, Dixon, MO 65459. The parking area is gravel and there are no restrooms or other amenities at the site. While the trail is fairly well marked, I always recommend using the AllTrails app to help stay on track.
Starting the Hike
The trail starts out fairly wide along a gravel path. Soon the trail reaches a fork where the loop portion begins. We opted to turn right and hike counter-clockwise. This is the quickest route to reach the natural bridge.
Soon the trail begins to descend downhill along switchbacks. There is a nice overlook and a wooden fence along the descent.
The trail soon reaches the creek level which is always fun for kids. The creek normally runs fairly low or but if you attempt to hike after heavy rain you could be met with more water than you may want to cross further along the trail. The trail at this point remains on the southeast side of the creek.
You may even spot a little friend enjoying the creek too.
The path then parallels the creek and climbs up and down several rocky hills. This section had a few spots where the trail became narrow with weeds encroaching on the trail. Bug spray and tick repellant are recommended if hiking in the summer.
Reaching the Natural Bridge
After about a mile or so of hiking, the trail crosses the creek as the natural rock bridge comes into view.
This is a lovely spot with a clear creek and the towering natural bridge. We visited during a dry spell, but spring or wetter weather could mean wet feet to cross the creek.
After passing under the bridge, the kids found a small cascading waterfall perfect for creek play.
Completing the Loop
The natural bridge marks the most northeast spot of the hike. To finish the hike, turn left when facing the bridge from the main creek.
The trail parallels the left side of the bridge before climbing up switchbacks to follow a ridgeline.
This rocky glade area has some interesting rock formations.
After following the ridge, the trail then begins to descend back to creek level again. We found the most overgrown trail section just past the creek crossing, but it did not last long.
Keep an eye out for the trail signs as the trail turns left from the creek and begins the final climb back to the parking area.
Have you ever visited this natural rock bridge?
More to See
You could combine this hike with a visit the scenic Maramec Spring Park in St. James for a full day of adventure.