A beautiful off-the-beaten-path (but popular) trail near Defiance that winds through the very scenic hills of Missouri's wine country. More of a hard-pack dirt trail than you'll see with most area trails which makes for great mountain biking and hiking IF it's not too wet and muddy.


  • Very beautiful area tucked in behind Missouri wine country near Defiance, Missouri
  • The main trail, the Matson Hill Loop trail, is a 2.8 mile loop trail with a few other connecting trails. 7.4 miles of trails in all.
  • Much more of a smooth, hard-pack dirt trail than most hilly trails in the region.
  • Great use of switchbacks to keep the decline/inclines gradual throughout the trail and to make the most of a somewhat compact area.
  • Lots of nice stream crossings with some nice mini-waterfalls. Would love to visit after a good rain (though the trail can get very muddy).
  • A few man-made jumps and banked turns for the Mountain Bikers.
  • A very fun, fast-and-flowy trail for Mountain Bikers with very few technical rock gardens.
  • Well-maintained by St. Charles County Parks Dept and GORC
  • Lots of flowers in the Spring
  • Has connectors to the Katy Trail


  • With the trail being mostly hard-pack dirt, it can definitely develop slick and sticky muddy areas during sustained wet periods. There were some muddy patches when we were there even though it hadn’t rained in days. Only one really bad spot.
  • The very scenic valleys on both sides are generally obscured by trees. Not much in the way of open scenic overlooks. More can be seen after the leaves have fallen.
  • If you are a hiker, expect to encounter a fair number of Mountain Bikers on the trail if you are there on a weekend and vice versa. Everyone seems to share the trail well generally.
  • Some reports of lots of ticks during warmer months particularly on the Oxen trail.
  • The parking lot (20 spaces) can fill up on particularly nice weekend days.

Getting There

About 2.5 miles from Defiance, Missouri in wine country. A bit further than many of the trails but definitely worth the visit. From the Highway 40/94 interchange: Take Highway 94 South approximately 13 miles. Go past Defiance to Matson, turn right and follow Matson Hill Rd. to the top of the hill. Turn right onto Matson Road (now paved) and go ½ mile. The trailhead is on the left side of Matson Road. It is well signed from Hwy 94 to the trailhead.