Great trail once you get out past the trailhead. Really liked the changes of elevation and how narrow the trail is. It makes you feel like you're hiking off the beaten path. Enjoyed the small little stops like the mini waterfalls. Only did a 3rd of the north loop, but plan on completing the entire thing with an overnight very soon.
Not a bad trail. Kind of rough with a 60 pound pack on your back and finishing it within 24 hours. The trail can be kind of confusing at some places but nothing too bad. I did hear what seemed to me like a larger predator that wasn't scared off by my loud noises wandering around at night. It's very secluded and the sounds of of the forest are amazing when it's calm out. This was very early spring so not a ton of vegetation.
I did the trail over a 2 day trek. I did the trail counter clockwise. There was a lot of different nature scapes along the trail, creeks, waterfalls, and forests views. The main waterfall is toward the end of the North loop (or beginning if you start there first). There is a much smaller one on the beginning of the South loop. A lot of nice places to camp along the way and water sources if you bring a filter
Great Trail! Tall cliffs, waterfalls, and multiple creek crossings. Plenty of water to filter at creeks and waterfalls. We hiked counterclockwise (south loop first). Don't follow the pink ribbons. The orange blazes later in the trail were accurate. Backpacker Magazine's waypoints (on their website) were helpful. Comfortable three day hike with perfect weather!
My son and I experienced this trail on Feb 13th. We started at the Roby Lake trailhead parking lot and took the South loop. The signage was fine and the trail was easy to follow, even in winter. As mentioned by others there is enough up and down to get some excercise, but plenty of flat areas to make some time. About 10-15 minutes up the trailhead there is a "Y" where the north and south branches divide. Around 90% of the area are Oak trees with a frew groves of pine trees. You'll be walking along, and then all of a sudden you will find yourself in the pines. There is a scenic overlook on the South trail that is nice. You work your way up to a plateau of pine trees with rocks around, and there are some fairly sheer dropoffs which provide for some spectacular views. Eventually you come to another (second) "Y" where you can continue on with the south, or switchover to the north trail. We continued on with the south, and camped about 2 hours in on the right side of the trail in a grove of pine trees. We never saw or heard anyone. That night we had a sleet / ice storm and fortunately we had stored some try wood under our hammocks so that we could build a quick warming fire in the morning. It never went above freezing the whole time we were there. The hike back felt strenuous due to the cold, fatigue, and weight of our packs. The trail was a bit slippery due to the frozen rain, but we made it back and was able to drive out again. Overall it was a great time in a beautiful area, and would recommend it.
Great trail, pretty easy for average fitness levels. Watch your step! Horses use this trail regularly enough. Even in February, the primary creek/stream with the waterfall was running. Didn't need water, but would have felt safe enough drawing from it. But there were numerous creeks dried up for the winter, so buyer beware depending on the time of year you hike. Plenty of dead wood on the trail for fires and ample space to set up camp anywhere on the trail. The camp sites at the trail head are nice too; right next to the lake.
A group of three of us did the entire loop as a 3 day, 2 night backpacking trip in the winter. We did the loop counterclockwise beginning at the Roby Lake trailhead. Overall it's a very nice hike with typical Ozark mountain terrain. Small creeks intersect the trail as it rolls over hills of pine forest. The trail seemed tailored to equestrians. The designated campsites on the south trail of the loop were far from water sources and mostly on top of windy plateaus. The north trail was similar. I would rate it a 5 but the trail is NOT marked. We used a paper map and GPS to stay on trail. This is important as you cross the creek to do the north loop. Also, someone marked alternative trails with pink ribbons--these do not mark the trail. The waterfall at the end is really pretty.
Loved it! We went in the fall and everything was dying off so I can only imagine how wonderful it will be in the spring!!! Can't wait to do it again. Trail is fairly well maintained. There's a couple areas that may be a little questionable as to where to go but if you prepare before hand you'll have no problem!!
This is a beautiful trail. I used to live in Licking and this one is the trail I remember most. Beauty does have a price however: it is rocky, poorly marked, You may encounter copperheads and water snakes and it is a long trail. Don't expect to do this in one day unless you are in super trail shape. It is not so much the 17 miles as the rocky and hard to follow trail. A lot of people get lost here, so have a backup plan to get out if you lose the trail. I don't know if tracking works in here because it did not exist when I hiked this trail. It was almost 15 years ago.
This was a welcome change from the civilized trails of the state trails. The more remote and less manicured trails added to the adventure. There are a great many stretches of trail with large, loose screen covering it; expect to wear sturdy shoes and pay extra attention to where you place your feet. The scenery is breathtaking in places and dreamy in others. The Lee ovation changes make this a good hike for exercising. I'm not so sure the distance I hiked (I've got to get a pedometer), because of the primitives and number of trails. I believe I made a third of my return on a well worn game trail. This was a wonderful trek!