The Cedar Creek trail network is made up of several loops which include sections of singletrack linked by remote gravel roads. The keys to a good ride at Cedar Creek, are dry weather and either a guide, or a map and lots of patience. Most rides here wind up taking longer than you plan, so take lots of water and power bars.
Officially, there is the Cedar Creek Trail (22 mi., both north and south of Hwy Y), and the Moon Loop (6+ mi.) and Boydsville Loop (~ 5 mi.), both on the north end of the forest. The best rides combine sections of the Cedar Creek and Boydsville loops between Pine Ridge and Rutherford Bridge. Although it's scheduled for maintenance and more singletrack in 2001, the Moon Loop generally doesn't figure into a good ride.
At its best, Cedar Creek is fast singletrack through forest with technical, rocky, sections at several creek-crossings. At its worst, Cedar Creek can be a confusing, tick-infested, collection of horse-destroyed mud-pits. This trail sees alot of horse-use and doesn't hold up well to rain.
I strongly recommend contacting the Mark Twain NF office in Fulton at (573)592-1400 and obtaining a trail map. Even though the heavy use and layout of this trail make maintaining it difficult, there is a history of cooperation between the Forest Service and local equestrians and bikers.
There are nearly as many different trailheads as there are ride-permutations, but the most popular TH is at the Pine Ridge Recreation Area east of Ashland.
The Pine Ridge trailhead is most easily found by driving on Hwy 63 to Ashland (about 10 miles south of Columbia, and 15 miles north of Jeff City). At the Ashland exit, go east on Hwy Y for about 7 miles (crossing Cedar Creek) to the Pine Ridge Recreation Area. Pine Ridge is on the north side of Hwy Y. Camping, water (except in winter) and pit toilets are located at this trailhead.
Another popular trailhead is found a few miles north at Rutherford Foot Bridge (a/k/a Boy Scout Bridge). To find it, Take Hwy 63 to the Columbia Regional Airport turnoff at Hwy H (about 4 miles north of Ashland and 6 mi. south of Columbia). Go east on Hwy H for several miles, past the airport, past the small town of Englewood and down a long, steep, hill to its deadend at Cedar Creek and Rutherford Foot Bridge. The trail is found by crossing the footbridge.
Summary: I was on this trail 25-30 miles on a weekday in Oct. 2005. I did several loops, all hoping I would find the magical, mythical wondrous trail my friend who had ridden there 5 years ago described. It just ain't happenin'! This trail is totally destroyed by horses. In the dry season I was in muck 50% of the time. The uphiulls are unclimbable due to trail muckiness, the downhills dangerous due to erosions and horsehoof pits. The only loop I didn't do was moon-loop. All others are shot!
After an hour of serious cleaning, I got my bike back.
I've heard there's a serious reclaimation effort underway. No matter what they do, they've got to solve the horse problem! I never worried about horses too much until now. This is total destruction. It makes me worry about the growing horse popularity on the Berryman!
I didn't rate this---it's mud!
Recommended Route: The southern route is ok- except for misguided gravelling and some poorly marked places. In one field I just had to make a wild guess, crossing a half-mile, and by luck, hitting the marked portion of the trail.
Guess I'm spoiled biking in the Taum Sauk region!
Other recommended trails in the same area: cedar creek was fun. Rock Ridge (?) near columbia was a good aerobic.
Review Date August 23, 2003
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Aerobic Difficulty 4 of 5
Technical Difficulty 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Every few months
Reviewed by: Ryan
Cross Country Rider
Summary: I have ridden this trail several times and the key to the trail is conditions. Go when it is dry and the brush has died down. I happen to be friends with Bryan who knows the trail system there better then anyone I have met. So sections of the trail are amazing and you really get a sense of adventure when riding there. If you go there without a local guide, a good attitude, and the right conditions you will probably hate life. Early November is good, and in the winter when it is cold and the mud is frozen it is also very nice.
Recommended Route: Ride from boyscout bridge to pine creek.
Other recommended trails in the same area: 3 creeks, rockbridge, Rhett's run, and Grindstone park.
Review Date August 17, 2003
Overall Rating 1 of 5
Aerobic Difficulty 3 of 5
Technical Difficulty 3 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Visitors rate this review 1.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Eric Anderson
Cross Country Rider
, from Joplin, MO
Summary: This place has AMAZING potential, but as it stands right now it is a horse-detroyed textbook example of equestrian environmental damage and erosion. Horses are the SUVs of the trail, and this place shows the impact of heavy horse use during wet conditions. Previously ridable steep s-track is now eroded into dangerous and nearly unwalkable ruts and gullies. What once were lovely and fun rock ledges and slopes have been shattered, scarred and broken into a loose surface from which all topsoil has been eroded. Image the most devasted and unridable trail conditions: rock slides, mud pits, trails only a DH bike could handle. It's worse. This is the kind of environmental nightmare that mtn bikers are falsely accused of all the time. This spot has it for real, but not from bikes, from horses.
The only thing that could save this spot would be for MO mtn bikers to work to get more "no horses" trails designated, and then to work like mad to restore or reroute these newly reclaimed trail sections.
Don't even bother with the Rutherford foot bridge in Englewood. It's by far the worst. Start in the campground off Y from 63 and ride until your wrists can't take it anymore, then shed a tear, turn around and go home.
Recommended Route: I entered from both the Rutherford foot bridge in Englewood and the main cmaping entrance off of highway Y. I also drove around trying to find other trailheads such as "Moon Loop" but couldn't find any of the ones shown on the forest map I got at the trailhead.
Review Date June 6, 2002
Overall Rating 2 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: Eric
, from Fulton
Summary: parts were very good, but others very bad. overgrown with thorns in some places. a few good dwonhills. mostly short technical ones though. many climbs, many not ridable. lots of creek crossings. kind of torn up by horses. map not very helpful. in most pasture crossings, the trail disappears and is hard to find on the other side. forest, pasture, and gravel roads make up the trail. didn't do the moon loop. heard that's not very good riding though. went in may and it was already very tick invested. recomended for more experienced riders because of length and difficulty of some downhill.
Recommended Route: not certain which route i took
Other recommended trails in the same area: rock bridge, three creeks
Review Date April 14, 2002
Overall Rating 1 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a year
Visitors rate this review 3.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Doug
, from Lawrence, KS
Summary: Once upon a time there was a lot of great riding out there. There are still about 3 really cool miles, but there're scattered and separated by several more miles of total crap - literally. The horses have screwd this place and the forest service doesn't care. After miles of hoof prints baked into hard clay, you'll need a spine transplant. Blow this place off and do 3-Creeks and rock bridge instead. Columbia has lots of good riding, but this place is no longer one of them.
Recommended Route: Between pine ridge campground and the old foot bridge about 6 or 7 miles one-way.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Three Creeks, Rock Bridge, Rett's Run, Fingerlakes