Hiking in the Ozarks
The hills and forests of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways area invite the hiker. The park only maintains a few trails, we hope to increase the number in the future. In addition, all dirt roads and old traces are open to hiking, and except for occasional horseback riders, there won't be much traffic. The National Park Service is in the process of marking some of the trails, but a good topographical map will help. Many trails leave the park and cross private or state lands. Please respect others' rights and share the trail.
A few common sense rules will help you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Lower Current River Trails
Big Spring Trail System:
Slough Trail:1.2 miles round trip. Wheelchair accessible. An easy stroll that begins just north of the '
River's Edge Trail: 1.8 miles round trip. This easy meandering trail, much of it through a stand of cane, provides a connection between Big Spring Campground and Peavine Picnic Shelter where one can catch the Slough Trail which leads to the
Stone Ridge Trail:1.2 miles long.This moderate to mildly strenuous hike ascends the limestone bluff to the ridgeline above the
Spring Branch Trail:1 mile round trip. This short rocky (in some sections) trail connects
Chubb Hollow Trail:3.8 mile loop trail. This trail offers a wide range of experiences. Sections of this hike pass through the Big Spring Pines State Natural Area---one of the most outstanding pine-oak forests in the
Partney Ridge Trail:3.3 miles long. This is a long but moderate hike with minimal grade change that traverses upland ridgetop forest (oak/hickory/pine) as well as an early farmstead---where both open fields and an old home (staff residence) provide park visitors with a glimpse of the bottomland habitation patterns once indicative of small farming settlements along the riverways. Excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing (turkey, deer, numerous song birds and raptors) exist as the trail nears the
Kinnard Hollow Trail: 3.5 miles long.The Kinnard Trail must be accessed via the Chubb Hollow Trail, the Spring Valley Trail, or the Chilton Trail. A moderate, but long hike, this trail was once part of the route patrolled by a "Range Rider" when
Chilton Creek Trail: 3.4 mile loop trail. This moderate trail parallels Chilton Creek as it travels up McSpadden Hollow before ascending a ridgetop. The trail follows an old trace much of the way, with hand laid stone crib walls constructed years ago where intermittent streams descend the ridge. Dipping into a second stream bed which drains into Water Hollow, the trail loops back to the north where it intersects Hwy. Z. At this point one can cross the road, catching the Partney Ridge Trail, or turn north along side Hwy. Z to complete the Chilton Creek loop.
Spring Valley Trail:2.1 miles long.This trail begins just south of Hwy 103 west of the
Cave Spring River Trail: 0.8 miles round trip. This easy trail begins at the day-use picnic area near Cave Spring on the Lower Current located west of the small community of Hunter (take Hwy 21 south and Hwy E west out of Hunter). Cave Spring River Trail passes through dense riparian habitat along the banks of the spring branch fed by waters issuing from the large vaulted entrance of the cave. This trail follows the spring branch east to the Current River.
Upper Current River Trails
Susie Nichols Cabin Trail: 0.6 miles round trip. This easy walk leads from the gate at the parking area up the old "home place" road to the farmstead of Susie Nichols, who up until her death in1959 chose to keep "the old ways". Living without electricity and relying on her horse "ol' Don" she remained independent and self-sufficient. The park maintains her board & batten cabin and several out buildings---the Nichols homestead being a cultural landscape typical of Ozark lifeways.
Welch Spring Trail: 0.8 miles round trip. The trail is located off Hwy. K north of Akers.It is an easy walk from the trailhead parking area north along a rock/earth impoundment out to Welch Spring---which emits 78.2 million gallonsof crystal clear water a day from a cave at the base of a limestone cliff. An old impoundment contains the flow, then water tumbles into the
Cave Spring Trail 4.6 mile loop trail. This trail is moderate but long---with short stretches classed as difficult as the trail climbs over the cliff---presenting a challenging 'scramble'. Follow signs on KK east of Akers where a gravel access road leads to Devils Well (an ancient sinkhole---at the bottom of which lies an underground lake the size of a football field).The loop trail, beginning at the Devils Well---traverses oak-pine forest ridges, a limestone glade, winds through hollows and crosses intermittent streams as it brings hikers down to the mouth of Cave Spring on the Current River. The 'Cliff' segment of this loop trail traverses the side of a high limestone bluff overlooking the
Pulltite Nature Trail: 1.5 mile loop trail.This trail presents a moderate challenge. The trailhead is located near the terminus of the campground road near the Group Camping Area at Pulltite. It is a 'self-guided' nature walk with interpretive panels along the trail. The trail ascends the ridge through oak/pine upland forest---passing close to a limestone cave. On decent from the ridgetop the trail parallels the
Pulltite Cabin Trail: 0.2 miles round trip. Located across the
Round Spring Trails: Round Spring Trail - A short walk (0.1 mile) from the Round Spring Picnic area takes visitors to an overlook where visitors can view the deep blue-green waters of Round Spring which lies at the base of a moss/fern covered limestone bluff. Interpretive exhibits provide information on geology and an overview of prehistoric peoples who once lived in the area. Round Spring Cave Trail - A short walk from the cave parking area (0.1 mile) through the woods along the spring branch takes visitors to the Round Spring Caverns for a tour of the cave. Guided tours (from Memorial Day to Labor Day) led by a park ranger explore the subterranean world of stalagmites, stalactites, bats, and cave salamanders---typical of hundreds of caves found throughout the park.A cave tour takes approximately 2 hours.
Lick Log Trail: 1 mile loop trail---easy with no steep grades.Trailhead is located off
Prairie Hollow Gorge Trail: 0.6 miles round trip.This short "scramble" over large boulders leads up the canyon of an igneous "shut-in" within the Prairie Hollow Gorge State Natural Area. It is located east of Hwy. V north of Hwy 106. There are numerous igneous glades and the area presents a prime example of igneous upland forest dominated by short leaf pine and white oak. The rocky understory is notable for a lush carpet of moss, lichen, and blueberry bushes.The stream which passes through the gorge flows intermittently with deep pools carved into the rock and enormous boulders.
Ozark Trail Maps: The 200 + miles of the Ozark Trail runs from
Blue Spring Trail: 1 mile round trip. This easy to moderate hike may be accessed at Powder Mill or from the picnic area at the Blue Spring Trailhead & Picnic Area. The trail skirts the bottomland riparian forest along the
Rocky Falls Trail: 0.4 miles long. This short, easy walk links
Jacks Fork River Trails
Alley Spring Trail: 0.3 mile short loop or 0.5 long loop.This easy hike begins at the historic Alley Mill located on the banks of Alley Spring. Following a tour of the old turbine powered grist mill, visitors can walk the perimeter of the deep blue spring along a trail that hugs the base of a massive limestone cliff. The remnants of the old stone impoundment and mill sluice send the 81 million gallons of water per day that flow from Alley Spring cascading into the spring branch. The trail continues for a short distance along the spring branch past a series of small caves and moss covered rock outcroppings, crosses a wood foot bridge to return to the Mill or continues down the branch to the visitor parking area.
Alley Overlook Trail: 1.3 mile loop trail. This hike begins at Alley Mill. There is a steep rocky ascent that climbs the limestone bluff from which Alley Spring emerges.The short climb brings one to a scenic overlook where one has a birds-eye view of the red Alley Mill below and the crystalline blue waters of Alley Spring. An interpretive wayside at the overlook reveals the extent of this once thriving 19th century community with a general store, a blacksmith shop, and a farmstead with corn fields and fence rows on the rolling slopes beyond Alley Mill. The trail continues along the ridge top through an upland pine-oak forest and this long segment of trail is level and easy walking. Following the ridge southward the trail dips down a series of switchbacks into the floodplain where Alley Spring Branch flows towards the
Ozark National Scenic Riverways offers equestrians four designated horse trail loops totaling 25.5 miles of trail. The trails are marked with color coded blazes. The park provides two staging areas (Broadfoot and
Horseback riding offers an excellent opportunity to experience the Ozark landscape---from open fields where one may encounter feral horses, forested riparian bottomland where one can observe song birds, raptors and water fowl, and upland oak-pine ridges with panoramic views of the river below. Remember---equestrians are restricted to blazed designated horse trails and numbered county gravel roads ONLY! Segments of some of the designated horse trails traverse private land.Out of courtesy and respect for private landowners, public lands, and the environment---all riders are asked to KEEP TO THE BLAZED TRAILS!
SAFETY NOTE:River fords are signed---and riders are to cross only at these designated fords. For the safety of both rider and mount---always release tie-downs before crossing a river ford. Never attempt to cross any stream or river during periods of high water.
Jerktail Loop Trail: This 5.2 mile loop trail is classified as moderate to difficult. There are two designated fords where the trail crosses the
Broadfoot Loop Trail:This5.9 mile loop trail is classified as moderate.The Broadfoot loop offers excellent opportunities to view a herd of wild horses which are protected within the park.There are two designated fords where the Broadfoot trail crosses the
Two Rivers Loop Trail: This 5.4 mile loop trail is classified as easy to moderate. Extended segments of this loop trail follow riparian corridors and afford views of both the Current and
Shawnee Loop Trail: This 7 mile loop trail is classified as easy to moderate. The Shawnee Staging area provides hitching posts, a restroom, and designated day-use parking for horse trailers. The trail passes through riparian areas along the Jacks Fork and
Angeline Conservation Area Horse Trails: The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) supports a system of eleven interconnected short loop trails and connecting trails within the Angeline, totaling 8.7 miles, just north of Eminence and to the west of the park. All trails are marked with color coded blazes.The trailhead parking area provided by MDC has designated parking for 30 horse trailers. Brochures describing the trails will be available at the trailhead. Riders may also contact the MDC Eminence Office at (573) 226-3616 to obtain more information.
Last updated: January 11, 2018