Tucked away in Daniel Boone country, Matson Hill Trail offers an exhilarating 9-mile loop of 100% singletrack. The trail weaves through a heavily wooded, dark, and shady hollow, crossing rock-bottom creeks and presenting a sense of a natural amphitheater. The trail's unique combination of low volume mid-level growth and towering old-growth trees form a high, dark canopy that feels otherworldly. Adding an extra layer of complexity, the surface is a blend of dirt with veins of rock and rocky creek crossings that turn into waterfalls.
Matson Hill offers a heart-pumping challenge to both novices and advanced riders alike. The constant undulation of the trail, weaving up and down, ensures that riders' lungs and legs get a solid workout. The trail's rock gardens and steep climbs make for a relentless uphill struggle, but the descent provides a well-deserved break with exhilarating speed and sweeping turns. It's advised to keep the bike in tip-top condition because you'll need all the help you can get.
The trail is designed to be ridden both clockwise and counter-clockwise. While the counter-clockwise direction offers a slightly less technical ride—ideal for newcomers—the clockwise direction provides its own set of thrills and challenges.
To access the trail, head south from the Highway 40/94 interchange on Highway 94 for approximately 13 miles. Follow Matson Hill Rd. until it ends at Duke Rd., then turn right and proceed for half a mile. The well-marked trailhead will be on your left. Parking options include the Katy Trail lot in Defiance, adding an extra 4 miles to your ride if you opt to bike up the steep Matson Hill Rd.
It's no surprise that the trail has been hailed as the best mountain biking spot in the St. Louis area, offering a mix of fast, flowy sections, technical challenges, and lung-busting climbs. With plans for rerouting and ongoing improvements by GORC (Gateway Off-Road Cyclists), this already stellar trail is only set to get better. A must-ride for anyone visiting the Defiance area, Matson Hill Trail leaves every rider wanting for more.Whether you're a local or a visitor, an advanced rider or a newbie, this trail has something to offer for everyone. And with the adjacent Oxen Mill and Hayes loops, extending the fun is easy. Just remember, like any well-loved secret, it's getting harder to keep this one quiet.