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Six great places to walk your dog in Columbia, MO

Fall is in full swing here in Columbia, and there is no better way to celebrate the return of cooler weather than a walk with your dog! We found the scoop on some of the best places for a stroll in Columbia so you can celebrate Walktober with the whole family!

Sophie Marie enjoying a stroll in Shelter Gardens

Clary Shy Park

Superior Sniffs

Located on the west side of Columbia, Clary Shy Park is home to the ARC, Columbia Farmers Market, and Agriculture Park. This park features paved sidewalks and gravel trails for exploring the wide variety of trees and plants at the park. 

Due to the seasonality of agriculture, the Agriculture Park is constantly changing, providing variety for you and your pup. Dogs really enjoy sniffing the wide variety of plants and crops. There is also plenty of green space and a playground for your human children to stretch their legs and burn off energy.


Clary Shy Community Park Details:

Address: 1701 W Ash Street

Hours: 6am – 11pm

Poop bags provided: No

Restrooms/running water: Seasonally 

Lit: Partially 

Leashes required: Yes

More Info: https://www.como.gov/parks/clary-shy-community-park/

Know Before You Go:

Clary Shy Park is home to the Columbia Farmers market on Saturday morning, dogs are not allowed at the farmers market. 

Occasionally, manure is used to fertilize fields. 


Shelter Gardens

Fantastic Flowers

Located directly across Ash street from Clary Shy Park, Shelter Gardens is a five-acre botanical garden that is beautiful year-round. Shelter Gardens is a great place for a peaceful stroll with your dog and there are plenty of photo opportunities as well. 

Shelter Garden Details:

Address: 1817 W Broadway

Hours: 8 am- Dusk

Poop bags provided: Yes

Restrooms/running water: No

Lit: No

Leash rules: Leashes required

More Information: https://www.shelterinsurance.com/aboutshelter/sheltergardens/


Baxter enjoying the trails at Grindstone Nature Area

Grindstone Nature Area

Creek Critters

Grindstone nature area is a great place for walking and hiking with your dogs. It has over 9 miles of trails, ranging from easy paths to moderate/hard trails depending on your comfort level. Grindstone nature area also connects to Caspen Park.  It features beautiful scenery and the Grindstone and Hinkson creeks for your dogs to splash in. There is a leash-free area of over 200 acres for your dogs to explore as well. 

Grindstone Nature Area Details: 

Address: 2011 Old Highway 63 South 

Hours: 6 am to 11 pm 

Poop Bags Provided: Community Provided (Bring old grocery bags to help contribute)

Restroom/Running Water: Year-round restrooms

Lit: No 

Leash rules: Leashes are required on Hinkson Creek Trail, other than that it is leash-free. 

More Information: https://www.como.gov/parks/grindstone-nature-area/


Forum Nature Area/MKT Trail Head 

Wildlife Watching

The Forum Nature Area trailhead parking lot provides access to several trail options for you and your dog to enjoy. To the east, there is the 3m Wetland Trail. This 1.25-mile loop is accessible via the MKT Trail and is a limestone gravel path that allows you to enjoy nature while also learning about the wildlife in the area. This trail is great for spotting owls, deer, and other wildlife friends. 

To the west of the Forum Nature Area trailhead parking lot, there is the Forum Wetland Trails. The full trail loop is 1.83 miles, but it can be cut in approximately half quite easily. The trails are gravel and with very slight elevation changes. The Forum Wetland Trails connect to Twin Lakes park near the dog park if your dog wants to run free for a bit. The Forum Wetland Trail features lakeside views and plenty of chances to see wildlife as well. 

A great feature of this trailhead and area is that there are many combinations of trails you can do to add variety to your routine and mileage needs. 

Forum Nature Area Details:

Address: 2701 Forum Blvd

Hours: 6 am to 11 pm 

Poop Bags Provided: Community Provided (Bring old grocery bags to help contribute)

Restroom/Running Water: Year round 

Lit: No 

Leash rules: 4-foot leashes required

More Information: https://www.como.gov/parks/forum-nature-area/

Pro Tip: If you want to see a lot of deer, walk on the trails in the early morning. The deer are quite plentiful and playful at that time of day. 

Garth Nature Area

Best of Both Worlds

Garth Nature Area features both a 1.5 mile trail and a fenced dog park and also serves as a trailhead for the Bear Creek Trail. The 1.5-mile trail is gravel and loops around the wetlands area and also is partially on the Bear Creek Trail. Leashes are required on the trails.  The fenced-in dog park has a pond for splashing and a dog wash station to rinse away the fun afterward. 

Garth Nature Area Details

Address: 2799 North Garth 

Hours: 6 am to 11 pm 

Poop Bags Provided: Community Provided (Bring old grocery bags to help contribute)

Restroom/Running Water: Year-round restrooms, seasonal dog drinking fountain

Lit: no 

Leash rules: None required in the dog park, leashes are required on trails

More Information: https://www.como.gov/parks/garth-nature-area/


Stephens Lake Park

Stephens Lake Park is one of Columbia’s most well-known parks and the two trails within it are great ways to see everything the park has to offer. Both trails are paved and partially lit in sections. 

The Lake Trail is a 0.6-mile loop around the lake. It has slight to minor elevation changes and features views of the lake throughout the entire loop. The Perimeter Trail is a 1.7-mile loop around the entire park. It does have some decent elevation changes depending on your fitness levels. The Perimeter Trail is a great way to take in almost everything that Stephens Lake Park has to offer. 

Stephens Lake Park Details:

Address: 2001 East Broadway

Hours: 6 am to 11 pm 

Poop Bags Provided: Community Provided (Bring old grocery bags to help contribute)

Restroom/Running Water: Year-round restrooms are located on the South Side

Lit: Partially 

Leash rules: Leashes are required.

More Information: https://www.como.gov/parks/stephens-lake-park/

Kai, Jesslyn, and Cleo enjoying a walk in Stephens Lake Park
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