Missouri: Day Hike: Buford Mountain Conservation Area

Are you looking for a new place to hike in Missouri? If your answer is “yes,” lace up your boots, fill up your water bottle, strap on your pack, and head on over to the Buford Mountain Conservation Area.

Located 97 miles south of St Louis, the area features the state’s third highest peak — 1,740-foot Buford Mountain, incredible views of the Arcadian and Belleview valleys, and a strenuous 10.2-mile day hike.

The area has a rich history. It was initially acquired through a Spanish Land Grant; Buford Mountain was the site for the charcoal industry in the Belleview-Arcadian Valley, and many Indian mounds dot the area’s lower elevations.

Many Impressive Views
The impressive views from its peaks make the trip to Buford worthwhile. But there are even more reasons to visit Buford Mountain: solitude and a great workout. Buford is one of the least visited outdoor areas in the Arcadia area, and hikers are virtually guaranteed solitude. And user conflicts are non-existent because no ATV-ers or mountain bikers are allowed. I have never observed another hiker, let alone another soul on my many treks to the mountain.

A view of Belleview Valley

And if you’re looking for a workout, Buford will not let you down thanks to 640 feet of elevation in the first 1-1/2 miles of trekking. Once on top of the mountain, hikers should come to a loop and head in a counter-clockwise direction saving the best views for last.

A Strenous Trek
Buford Mountain’s trail should be considered a strenuous trek due to the mileage and long initial climb. Hikers are advised to carry water, food, and extra clothing on this hike. Another tip is to be prepared and carry the “10 essentials.”

After you have finished the hike, you can visit the nearby Arcadian Café for a post-hike fuel up. If you’re looking for two great guides to the many outdoor sites in the Arcadia area, pick up a copy of “Hiking Missouri” ($19.95, Human Kinetics), by Kevin Lohraff; and “Scenic Driving the Ozarks” ($15.95, Falcon Publishing), by Don Kurz.

Making The Hike
To get to Buford Mountain Conservation Area from St. Louis; take Interstate-55 south to US 67; south on US 67 to MO 32; west on MO 32 to MO 21; south on MO 21 to Route U; Route U to the parking area.

For more information, contact:
Missouri Department of Conservation

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