Missouri's Pinnacles

Silver Fork Creek rises on the Glaciated Plain of north-central Missouri, a few miles southwest of Centralia; snaking southwestward, this stream eventually enters Perche Creek, a large tributary of the Missouri River.  About 14 miles north of Columbia, a loop in the course of Silver Fork Creek, combined with erosion along Kelley Creek, one of its tributaries, has produced a narrow ridge of limestone, known locally as The Pinnacles.

Mississippian in age, the limestone has weathered into irregular knobs and ledges, broken by steep ravines; at two sites, natural windows have opened in the rock wall.  Narrow foot-trails lead onto the scenic ridge, offering spectacular views of the creek and the wooded bluffs along its course.  Turkey vultures soar overhead and prairie lizards bask on the exposed limestone; deciduous forest cloaks the lower slopes of the ridge while eastern red cedars cling to the sheer rock cliffs.

Access to these scenic rock formations is on the east side of U.S. 63, about 15 miles north of Interstate 70.  Turn right (east) on Pinnacles Road, taking an immediate right at the "T."  Drive just over half a mile and enter the Pinnacles Youth Camp which is open to visitors.  The Pinnacles are just across Silver Fork Creek from the parking area but a short walk downstream is necessary to cross the creek (water conditions permitting) and to access the Pinnacles trail.  Caution on the steep, narrow ridge is strongly advised and the climb is not safe for frail adults or young children.