Natural resource areas are lands set aside for preservation of significant natural resources, remnant landscapes, open space, and visual aesthetics/buffering. Since the emphasis is upon the protection of the resource, facility development is limited to those that support the natural resource, such as restrooms, outdoor classrooms, picnic areas, parking lots, and trails.
These wetlands were created to help filter stormwater runoff and provide habitat for wildlife. The wetland cells treat stormwater runoff from approximately 140 acres of urban watershed and can store an estimated 10,000,000 gallons of runoff. Visitors will enjoy walking the 1.25 mile loop trail around the wetlands to observe the wildlife and read the educational signs.
Bonnie View Nature Area is the trailhead for the Scott's Branch Trail. It has a medium-size reservable shelter, restroom, and beautiful natural areas to explore on the 93-acre property. The park is adjacent to the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary. No dogs are allowed on the trail in the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary.
Rock climbers enjoy the bluffs and scenic overlooks at this 32-acre park. The City of Columbia has a mulch site at this location where citizens can drop off yard waste and pick up free mulch. This park has bridge connections to Grindstone Nature Area and the Hinkson Creek Trail.
Forum Nature Area is a trailhead for the MKT Trail off of Forum Blvd., with a parking lot, year-round restroom, water fountain, and stretching stations. The nature area has over 100 acres to explore off of the MKT Trail via loop gravel trails around the wetlands area. No bikes allowed in the nature area.
Garth Nature area has 1.6 miles of gravel trails around the wetlands, a fenced leash-free dog park, restroom, and is a trailhead for the Bear Creek Trail. An abundance of birds and other wetlands wildlife make the wetland trails an interesting walk. Trail users can travel west on the Bear Creek Trail from Garth Nature Area to Cosmo Park (2.5 miles) or travel east on the Bear Creek Trail from Garth Nature Area to Albert-Oakland Park (2.3 miles).
This large nature area is a leash-free area for dogs (except on the Hinkson Creek Trail), has over five miles of nature trails, a picnic shelter, restrooms, and is a trailhead for the Hinkson Creek Trail and the Grindstone Creek Trail. Wildflowers grow in the prairie areas.
The Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area is owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation and managed by Columbia Parks and Recreation as a result of a land swap agreement. The park is home to the Hillcrest Community Center, the Moss Building (reservable), and Waters House (reservable). The park is open for deer and turkey archery hunting under MDC hunting regulations. The park has a reservable shelter, playground, and outdoor restroom. Grindstone Creek Trail travels through the south end of the park.