Location: The Pine Ridge Recreaton Area and trailhead is located approximately 3 miles East of Ashland, MO from Hwy. 63 on Route Y. The Cedar Creek Ranger District comprises approximately 15,000 acres in Boone & Callaway counties.
Distance: The original Cedar Creek Hiking Trail (known as Devil's Backbone Trail), the current southern loop, is approximately 22 miles in length. Two loops have since been added: The Moon Loop in the northwest comprises another 7 miles of trail and the Smith Creek Loop between Hwy J and Cedar Creek from Boydsville to Rutherford Bridge is about 5 miles in length.
Water: Water may not be available and any water gathered within the trail system must be treated, boiled, or filtered before drinking.
Parking: Overnight parking is available at approximately 18 locations within the trail system so it would be best to obtain a map from the Ranger District. See phone number and address below.
Comments: The original 22 miles of the Cedar Creek Hiking Trail crosses scenic country through private and national forest lands so take care not to trespass. The trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders except for the section of trail through the Pine Ridge Recreation Area which is open to hiking and mountain biking only. Alternate trails are provided for horseback riders in these areas. Two-thirds of this portion of the trail is cross-country and the other third is on gravel county roads.
Grey diamonds mark the trail route and self-closing gates provide places to cross the fences of pasture areas. Small graveled areas, located at each national forest tract, provide space for parking.
The Moon Loop is named for its eroded landscape features which resemble the surface of the moon. Soils in the Smith Creek Loop are subject to high erosion and it is important to stay on the trail. The Cedar Creek Ranger District is located in the transition zone where the oak-hickory forest joins the tall grass prairie and provides a variety of wildlife habitats.
Maps: Trail maps available from the Cedar Creek Ranger District (573-592-1400), USDA Service Center, 4549 State Road H, Fulton, MO 65251.
Cautions: Summertime ticks and heat, bring plenty of water as water may not be available. Hunting is allowed in this area and the Smith Creek Loop is very popular during spring and fall hunting seasons.