Ozark Trail In Missouri

Here is everything you need to know about the Ozark Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Missouri
  • Length: 393.36 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://www.ozarktrail.com/

The Ozark Trail is a long-distance hiking trail located in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Its history dates back to the early 20th century when the idea of creating a scenic trail through the rugged and picturesque Ozark region was first conceived. The trail was envisioned as a way to promote outdoor recreation and tourism in the area, showcasing the natural beauty and unique geological features of the region.

In 1925, the Ozark Trail Association was formed with the goal of establishing a continuous trail system that would span the entire Ozark region. The association worked tirelessly to secure land rights, build trails, and create a network of routes that would connect various points of interest. By the late 1920s, the Ozark Trail had become a popular destination for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and tourists seeking to explore the stunning landscapes of the Ozarks.

However, the Great Depression and the subsequent decline in tourism led to the gradual deterioration of the trail. By the 1940s, the Ozark Trail had fallen into disrepair, and much of it had been lost to development and neglect. It wasn’t until the 1980s that efforts to revive and restore the trail gained momentum. Various organizations, including the Ozark Trail Association and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, collaborated to rebuild and expand the trail system.

Today, the Ozark Trail stretches over 350 miles, offering hikers and backpackers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the Ozark Mountains. The trail traverses diverse landscapes, including dense forests, rocky bluffs, clear streams, and hidden waterfalls. It provides a glimpse into the rich history and cultural heritage of the region, passing through old mining sites, historic towns, and remnants of the Ozark’s past. The Ozark Trail stands as a testament to the perseverance and dedication of those who sought to preserve and showcase the beauty of this remarkable region.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park – Located in Ironton, Missouri, this is the southern terminus of the Ozark Trail. It offers parking, camping, and access to the trail.

2. Council Bluff Lake – Located near Potosi, Missouri, this access point provides parking and camping facilities. It is a popular starting point for hikers.

3. Bell Mountain Wilderness – Situated near Belleview, Missouri, this trailhead offers parking and camping options. It is known for its scenic views and rugged terrain.

4. Middle Fork Section – Located near Steelville, Missouri, this access point provides parking and camping facilities. It is a popular starting point for hikers exploring the central section of the trail.

5. Current River Section – Situated near Eminence, Missouri, this trailhead offers parking and camping options. It is known for its beautiful river views and water activities.

6. Hercules Glades Wilderness – Located near Bradleyville, Missouri, this access point provides parking and camping facilities. It is known for its diverse wildlife and scenic beauty.

7. Eleven Point Section – Situated near Alton, Missouri, this trailhead offers parking and camping options. It is known for its clear streams and remote wilderness.

8. Mark Twain National Forest – Located in the southern part of Missouri, this access point provides various parking and camping options. It offers multiple entry points to the Ozark Trail.

9. Onondaga Cave State Park – Situated near Leasburg, Missouri, this trailhead offers parking and camping options. It is known for its limestone caves and natural beauty.

10. Rockpile Mountain Wilderness – Located near Ellington, Missouri, this access point provides parking and camping facilities. It is known for its rugged terrain and scenic overlooks.

These are just a few of the major access points or trailheads along the Ozark Trail. There are many more smaller access points and trailheads throughout the trail, providing hikers with various options to start their journey.

Transportation Available

1. Ozark Trail Shuttle – Provides shuttle services for hikers and backpackers along the Ozark Trail.
2. Ozark Trail Taxi – Offers taxi services for transportation to and from various trailheads along the Ozark Trail.
3. Ozark Trail Bike Rentals – Provides bike rentals for exploring the Ozark Trail and surrounding areas.
4. Ozark Trail Bus – Offers bus services for transportation to different sections of the Ozark Trail.
5. Ozark Trail Car Rentals – Provides car rental services for convenient transportation along the Ozark Trail.
6. Ozark Trail ATV Tours – Offers guided ATV tours for exploring the scenic routes of the Ozark Trail.
7. Ozark Trail Horseback Riding – Provides horseback riding services for a unique way to experience the Ozark Trail.
8. Ozark Trail Helicopter Tours – Offers helicopter tours for a breathtaking aerial view of the Ozark Trail and its surroundings.
9. Ozark Trail Limousine Service – Provides luxury limousine services for a comfortable and stylish transportation option along the Ozark Trail.
10. Ozark Trail RV Rentals – Offers RV rentals for a convenient and comfortable way to travel and camp along the Ozark Trail.


The amenities available at the Ozark Trail may vary depending on the specific section or trailhead you are referring to. However, here is a list of common amenities that can be found along various parts of the Ozark Trail:

1. Restrooms: Some trailheads or camping areas along the Ozark Trail may have restroom facilities available. These can include flush toilets or pit toilets.

2. Parking: Many trailheads along the Ozark Trail offer parking areas for visitors to leave their vehicles while they hike or explore the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The Ozark Trail provides numerous designated camping sites along its route. These sites may vary in terms of amenities, ranging from primitive sites with no facilities to more developed sites with fire rings, picnic tables, and access to water sources.

4. Picnic Areas: Some sections of the Ozark Trail may have designated picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or take a break. These areas may have picnic tables, grills, and trash receptacles.

5. Water Sources: The trail passes through various streams, rivers, and springs, providing opportunities for hikers to access water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. However, it is always recommended to treat or filter water from natural sources before consuming it.

6. Trail Shelters: In certain sections, the Ozark Trail may have trail shelters or backcountry cabins available for hikers to use. These shelters typically provide a roof, basic sleeping platforms, and sometimes a fireplace or stove.

7. Trailhead Information Boards: At many trailheads, you may find information boards that provide maps, trail conditions, safety guidelines, and other useful information for hikers.

8. Trail Markers: The Ozark Trail is typically well-marked with trail blazes, signs, or markers to help hikers navigate the trail and stay on the designated route.

It is important to note that amenities can vary along different sections of the trail, and some areas may have limited or no amenities at all. It is always recommended to research and plan accordingly before embarking on a hike or camping trip along the Ozark Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Ozark Trail Shelter – A basic shelter along the trail for overnight stays.
– Ozark Trail Campgrounds – Various campgrounds along the trail offering tent and RV camping options.
– Ozark Trail Cabins – Cozy cabins available for rent near the trail.

2. Food Services:
– Ozark Trail Restaurants – Local restaurants serving a variety of cuisines near the trail.
– Ozark Trail Grocery Stores – Convenient grocery stores for stocking up on supplies during your hike.
– Ozark Trail Food Trucks – Mobile food trucks offering quick bites along the trail.

3. Emergency Services:
– Ozark Trail Ranger Station – A designated station for trail-related emergencies and assistance.
– Ozark Trail Medical Clinic – A medical clinic providing healthcare services near the trail.
– Ozark Trail Police Department – Local law enforcement agency responsible for maintaining safety along the trail.

Ozark Trail Difficulty Notes

The Ozark Trail presents a moderate to challenging difficulty level for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning over 500 miles through the rugged terrain of the Ozark Mountains, this trail offers a diverse range of landscapes and elevations, making it both exciting and demanding. Hikers can expect steep ascents and descents, rocky paths, and occasional stream crossings, which require a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. Additionally, unpredictable weather conditions and limited access to amenities along the trail add to the challenge. However, the breathtaking views, serene forests, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with conquering this trail make it a rewarding experience for those seeking an adventure.

Features And Attractions

1. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park: This park is home to the highest point in Missouri, offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding Ozark Mountains.

2. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park: Known for its unique rock formations and natural swimming holes, this park is a popular spot for hiking, picnicking, and camping.

3. Hercules Glades Wilderness Area: This wilderness area features rugged terrain, scenic overlooks, and miles of hiking trails through forests and glades.

4. Current River: A designated National Scenic River, the Current River offers opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, surrounded by beautiful limestone bluffs and lush forests.

5. Alley Spring and Mill: This historic site features a picturesque red mill, built in 1894, and a crystal-clear spring that flows into the Jacks Fork River.

6. Big Spring: Located in Big Spring State Park, this is one of the largest natural springs in the United States, with an average daily flow of 286 million gallons of water.

7. Rocky Falls: A cascading waterfall surrounded by rocky cliffs and a natural swimming hole, Rocky Falls is a popular spot for photography and relaxation.

8. Bell Mountain Wilderness Area: Offering breathtaking views from its summit, Bell Mountain is a popular destination for hikers and backpackers.

9. Mark Twain National Forest: Covering over 1.5 million acres, this national forest is home to numerous scenic spots, including the Eleven Point National Scenic River and the Devil’s Backbone Wilderness Area.

10. Onondaga Cave State Park: This park features a stunning show cave with guided tours, showcasing beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique formations.

11. Roaring River State Park: Known for its trout fishing, Roaring River State Park also offers scenic hiking trails, a historic grist mill, and a picturesque spring-fed stream.

12. Ha Ha Tonka State Park: This park is famous for its castle ruins, perched atop a bluff overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks, as well as its numerous hiking trails and natural bridges.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Ozark Trail. There are many more hidden gems to discover along this beautiful trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Ozark Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is allowed only in designated campsites along the trail.
3. Campfires are permitted only in designated fire rings or grills.
4. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please pack out all trash and leave no trace.
5. Hunting is not allowed on the Ozark Trail.
6. Motorized vehicles, including ATVs and motorcycles, are not permitted on the trail.
7. Bicycles are allowed on certain sections of the trail, but riders must yield to hikers and horses.
8. Horses are allowed on designated equestrian trails. Please clean up after your horse.
9. Fishing is allowed in certain areas along the trail, but a valid fishing license is required.
10. Swimming is allowed in designated swimming areas only.
11. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Ozark Trail, located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Missouri, offers a stunning outdoor experience for hikers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit the trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, lush greenery, and cascading waterfalls. The temperatures are mild, ranging from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C), making it perfect for long hikes and camping. Fall is equally enchanting, with the foliage transforming into a breathtaking display of red, orange, and gold. The temperatures are cooler, ranging from 40°F to 60°F (4°C to 15°C), creating a pleasant atmosphere for outdoor activities.

It is important to note that the Ozark Trail has seasonal closures in certain areas due to weather conditions and maintenance. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be closed due to snow and ice, making it unsafe for hiking. It is advisable to check the official Ozark Trail website or contact the local authorities for up-to-date information on closures and trail conditions. Additionally, some sections of the trail may be closed temporarily for maintenance or repairs during other times of the year. These closures are necessary to ensure the safety and preservation of the trail, so it is always recommended to plan your visit accordingly and stay informed about any closures or restrictions.

Overall, the Ozark Trail offers a diverse and captivating experience throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring or the crisp air of fall, there is a season for everyone to enjoy the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains. Just be sure to check for any seasonal closures or restrictions before embarking on your adventure to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the trail.


1. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to trail entrances for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms equipped with accessible features such as grab bars, wider doorways, and lower sinks.
3. Wheelchair-Accessible Trails: Trails with smooth surfaces, gentle slopes, and wider paths to accommodate wheelchair users.
4. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables, benches, and pathways for individuals with mobility impairments.
5. Braille Signage: Trail signs with Braille text to assist visually impaired individuals.
6. Accessible Campsites: Campsites with accessible features like level ground, wider paths, and accessible fire rings.
7. Assistive Listening Devices: Devices available for individuals with hearing impairments to enhance their experience during guided tours or events.
8. Accessible Visitor Centers: Visitor centers equipped with ramps, elevators, and accessible exhibits for individuals with disabilities.
9. Service Animal Accommodations: Policies allowing service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities on the trail.
10. Accessible Information: Availability of trail maps, brochures, and other informational materials in accessible formats such as large print or electronic versions.

Safety Information

1. Plan and prepare: Research the trail, check weather conditions, and pack essential items like maps, first aid kits, and extra food and water.
2. Inform others: Share your hiking plans with someone reliable, including your expected return time.
3. Stay on the trail: Stick to designated paths to avoid getting lost or damaging the environment.
4. Be aware of wildlife: Learn about the local wildlife, keep a safe distance, and store food securely to prevent attracting animals.
5. Stay hydrated: Carry enough water and drink regularly to avoid dehydration, especially in hot weather.
6. Dress appropriately: Wear suitable clothing and footwear for the terrain and weather conditions.
7. Protect yourself from the sun: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.
8. Watch your step: Be cautious of uneven terrain, loose rocks, and slippery surfaces to prevent falls and injuries.
9. Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects by applying repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants.
10. Be cautious near water: Practice water safety, avoid swimming alone, and be aware of currents and potential hazards.
11. Carry a whistle: Use a whistle to signal for help in case of an emergency or if you get lost.
12. Leave no trace: Respect the environment by packing out all trash, minimizing campfire impact, and avoiding damage to plants and wildlife.
13. Be prepared for emergencies: Learn basic first aid skills, carry a fully charged phone, and know the emergency contact numbers for the area.
14. Hike with a buddy: Whenever possible, hike with a partner to enhance safety and provide assistance if needed.
15. Trust your instincts: If a situation feels unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your gut and make decisions that prioritize your well-being.

Conservation Notes

The Ozark Trail, located in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, is a significant natural resource that requires conservation efforts to ensure its long-term sustainability. The conservation status of the Ozark Trail is considered to be relatively stable, thanks to the dedicated efforts of various organizations and agencies. These entities work together to protect and preserve the trail’s natural environment, biodiversity, and cultural heritage.

One of the primary concerns for the conservation of the Ozark Trail is the preservation of its diverse ecosystems. The trail traverses through a variety of habitats, including forests, glades, and streams, which support a wide range of plant and animal species. Conservation efforts focus on maintaining the integrity of these ecosystems by preventing habitat destruction, controlling invasive species, and promoting sustainable land management practices.

Another aspect of conservation is the protection of the Ozark Trail’s cultural heritage. The trail passes through areas that hold historical and cultural significance, including remnants of early settlements, Native American sites, and mining areas. Conservation efforts aim to preserve these cultural resources by promoting responsible recreational use, educating visitors about the trail’s history, and implementing measures to prevent vandalism and looting.

Overall, the conservation status of the Ozark Trail is actively managed to ensure the preservation of its natural and cultural resources. Ongoing efforts by various stakeholders, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, and volunteers, play a crucial role in maintaining the trail’s ecological integrity and cultural significance for future generations to enjoy.

Leave a Comment