10/07/2011 05:19 pm ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011

Missouri Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

Missouri fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Missouri fall foliage. — Staff

Forest Park

St. Louis's Forest Park was home to both the 1904 World’s Fair and Summer Olympics. Now the glorious 1,293-acre city park is home to an unbelievable number of attractions, many of them natural settings, including a prairie, a savannah, and a wetlands. Leaf peepers have plenty to feast on, including red buckeyes and osage oranges, as well as the Missouri state tree, the dogwood. While taking in the sights, visitors should also take advantage of the rest of the heritage-rich park, with options as diverse as the foliage, including golf, boating, tennis, a science center, zoo, a history museum, and an art museum, among others.

Forest Park, 5591 Grand Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63112 | Get Directions

Lake of the Ozarks State Park

The 17,441-acre Lake of the Ozarks State Park is the largest park in Missouri, which means fall visitors are in for a spectacular leaf-turning show. The epic park is home to 12 hiking trails, including the Woodland Trail, a 3.25-mile trek that goes through the 1,275-acre Patterson Hollow Wild Area, and features dogwoods, the state tree. There are six species of dogwood in Missouri and three of them can grow to 40 feet. The most unique tree here, according to, is the thong. Interestingly, thong trees were bent by Native Americans to mark trails and indicate water nearby.

Lake of the Ozarks State Park, MO 65017| Get Directions

Katy Trail State Park

The Katy Trail lies in the heartland of Missouri, and thus the nation. The 237-mile-long hiking and biking trail cuts horizontally over half of the state and runs nearly parallel to three very important markers: the path of the Lewis and Clark Trail, the now defunct Missouri-Kansas-Texas [MKT] Railroad and the Missouri River. Visitors will see a mixture of forest, plains and wetlands in an autumnal glow along the trail's paths and old railroad bridges, as well as natural rock formations and picturesque bluffs. Start your quest in quaint Rocheport, at the scenic old (1892) Rocheport Tunnel, used a century ago for the MKT Railroad. The 17-mile stretch of the Katy Trail from Rocheport to McBaine is particularly known for its fall colors.

Rocheport Tunnel, First Street, Rocheport, MO 65279| Get Directions

Slideshow of a November bike trip along the Katy Trail.

Did we miss a Missouri fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.

Interested in more stories about Missouri? Go to Patch and scroll the list of states to get great local coverage of your neighborhood.