The Hinkson Woods Conservation Area in Southwest Columbia, Missouri, is an open scruff of parkland that has been designated as an area allowed for off-leash dogs. About a third of the property, which is owned and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation, consists of wooded areas, while the remaining two-thirds is wide-open grasslands.
In total, the park is about 70 acres – plenty of room for Frisbee, fetch, scratch, sniff, poke around, sleep in the shade, and any number of canine-centered activities. Hinkson Woods is located southwest of the University of Missouri and it's part of a latticework of creeks, lakes, and forests that define the conservation areas of the “show-me” state.
The technical address of the park is 2701 Forum Boulevard, but there is also access at 2500 Chapel Hill Road. The City of Columbia, which owns the tract, says to access the area you can also use the MKT Forum Boulevard trail or go through the Twin Lakes Recreation Area. “Follow the MKT Trail west of Twin Lakes to Hinkson Woods sign. The MKT Trail can be accessed from Twin Lakes by following the trail around the fishing lake,” the city says.
The benefits are numerous. As it is a conservation area, there are no hours or days when the place is closed, and no fees involved, but it also means there are few modern amenities if any. Wild and scenic, there are no fences to contain your dog, so it's all about freedom here. But freedom means it is possible to wander off the trail and get lost. There are no light poles to help you know where you are.
And, some dog owner reviews left in a hurry because of the number of ticks that were preying on their dogs. On the plus side, there are some long, ambling trails to try out and a robust creek that runs through portions of the property (Hinkson Creek) and photos show that it is a popular spot for romping dogs. Big dog, little dog, any dog at all.