Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Trail type
2.60 mi (4.18 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Bluff Trail is one of several trails within the Joplin area's Wildcat Glades Conservation Area.

Hiked as an out-and-back on its own, the Bluff Trail offers a 2.6 mile path tracing a creekside route along Shoal Creek before rising 100 feet to follow the limestone clifftops until it reaches a fork with the Low Bridge Trail.

There are parking lots at either end of the Bluff Trail, though the parking area beside Old Redings Mill Bridge is easier to access. The trail crosses the former traffic bridge over Shoal Creek. Depending on the time of year, this trail might be busy as lots of locals walk it to access several deep swimming holes along the creek during the hot months. The path follows hard packed dirt single track as it passes through shady forest. Shoal Creek tends to stay within view until about the halfway point, when the trail doubles back as it climbs a short burst of stairs before re-emerging atop limestone cliffs, now looking down with a bird's eye view of the creek, along with the wooded banks opposite.

There are a few old tables along the hike, but those with a good sense of balance may opt to leap to the edge of the cliffs in order to take in the surroundings and the forest stretching nearly as far as the sky.

The trail's end begins to become clear as signage for those hiking in from the opposite trailhead appears along the path. This is 1.3 miles in, and hikers can continue onto the Low Bridge Trail and St. John's Creek Trail to create a longer 4.2 mile loop path back to the parking area, or can turnaround here and opt for the shorter 2.6 mile out-and-back along the Bluff Trail.

There are no bathrooms or running water anywhere along the trail, however hikers may be able to stop into the nearby Wildcat Glades Audoban and Conservation Center during open hours to find both.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Access to swimming areas. Wide views.


Can become crowded during summer season.

Trailhead Elevation

915.00 ft (278.89 m)

Highest point

985.00 ft (300.23 m)


Near lake or river
Family friendly
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Wildcat Glades Conservation Area, Missouri
Wildcat Glades Conservation Area, Missouri


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.