Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
1.05 mi (1.69 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.

This beautiful little park is often referred to as the Missouri's "Little Grand Canyon." The Grand Gulf is a cave system in the Ozark Mountains that was once much larger than it is today. It is estimated that the roof of this cave system collapsed 10,000 years ago, and it left the vertical-walled canyon that can be seen today.

From the parking lot there are two marked trails that are good for short hikes. The Natural Bridge Trail is 0.8 miles round trip, and it takes you on top of the Natural Bridge, which is the remnant of the old collapsed cave. Several offshoots from this trail will either take you to small lookouts of different areas or they will lead you to the bottom of the gulf. There is currently no official trail to the bottom of the gulf, so if you decide to take one of these trails, do so with caution.

As you exit the trail back into the parking lot, continue down the right side onto the walkway. If you stop at the center of the walkway you can look down the gulf and imagine how it looked so many years ago. The Interpretive Loop Trail continues down the walkway, and it is maintained very well with carved steps. This trail is 0.25 miles round trip, but it takes you all the way to the bottom of the cave system. Here you will see a very small spring coming out of the cave wall. This is water percolating from Bussell Branch, which is an offshoot from Mammoth Springs nearby. You are welcome to go off trail in this park during the dry season and explore the caves to your heart's content. After you finish the Interpretive Loop Trail you will end back at the parking lot, where you can eat a picnic and enjoy nature.

Make sure to wear tennis shoes or hiking boots due to the rocky terrain. Sandals are not advised.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Good for a short hike. Beautiful tree canopies. Relaxing atmosphere.

Cons

Hard to view certain areas. No official trail to the bottom of the gulf.

Trailhead Elevation

587.00 ft (178.92 m)

Net Elevation Gain

152.00 ft (46.33 m)

Features

Bird watching
Wildlife
Cave
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Ozark Mountains + Highlands, Arkansas

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