Hercules Glades West Trailhead to Upper Pilot Knob is a 7.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Bradleyville, MO that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Multiple loops available. From this side the shortest planned out and back is 8 miles round trip. Combining loops could keep you on the trail for 2-3 days. Nice scenery and not overused. Part of the Mark Twain National Forest, groups of ten or less. Loop, p-p and combination trails available.
One of my favorite fall hikes. Some of the best views in the wilderness come from the Upper Pilot Knob. There's no trail, but follow the map and bushwhack up to the top. There's a fire ring and some stone benches. (36°42'05.2"N 92°55'34.6"W) Some pretty good views and fire rings on some of the glades, too. Not the best in the summertime, wait till after heavy rains to go see the falls.
It was a beautiful hike out to the falls. Did some swimming and hiked back on the Tower trail.
I've backpacked there for decades now and spent many, many nights there and hiked most every hollow and ridge. The main attraction is, of course, "The Falls", and you can get there quickest from either the Coy Bald or Blair Ridge trail heads. The Blair Ridge trailhead is the fastest, shortest, and easiest way to get there. You can get there from the Lookout Tower at the Hwy 125 Trailhead too, but it's a long hike with a long uphill climb on the way out so it's best to spend the night there if you take that route. I've hiked it out in the dark, before LED headlamps, and it was pitch black before I got to the trailhead. That was no fun, so be prepared with good lighting if you attempt that.
If it's really sweet out, and no one is there, I'll camp at The Falls. The campsites near there are pretty heavily used though, and almost always crowded on weekends and holidays, but it's sweet to listen to the water rushing at night if you have all to yourself. Generally hard to find deadfall for campfires there though. The area is picked clean, and you'll see evidence of boneheads that cut live green tree branches, small trees, and saplings to burn often there, as well as fire rings with trash and grease in them. You don't need a campfire there though, and it's especially sweet when the moon is full.
I need to point out that people often scatter those fire rings, but that actually does more harm than good. They just spread the ash and grease around and kill the grass that used to grow there, and someone always rebuilds them soon after. My own feeling is the campsites near The Falls get about 60% or more of all the camping pressure in that park and it's really best to keep it there. Leave the fire rings there. It makes it easier on those of us who do carry the trash out and will take the time to scatter the ash thin enough to not cause harm.
Oh, and I don't want to forget this... Years ago someone left some coins under the boulders around the The Falls. Whenever locals go there we look for them. If you look for them, (they'll usually be under a stack of three small rocks) take them and keep them, or replace them, or put one there if you don't find one. It's a tradition. It doesn't matter if you take them and leave none, someone will come along and put one there. I think it started off as a way to get kids excited about going for a hike, but I've seen adults looking for them many times over the years and you can't help but get excited if you find one, or if you leave one for someone else to find.
Personally, I don't hike the trails there much. I almost always bushwhack there. Hercules Glades is one of my favorite places to bushwhack. Every hill and hollow is unique and beautiful, and there are a lot of hidden treasures to be found there.
One of my favorite spots to explore is what I call "The Rock Piles". It's about 5-10 acres of ridge top land with piles of rocks scattered around randomly. Some piles are small, and some are pretty big, 12 ft long and 5ft high or more. Same with the rocks that make them up, some of those rocks easily weigh over 100 pounds. There must be more than 50 piles, maybe twice that many. When you look at them all together you realize that it took a huge amount of work to pile all those rocks up. And you cannot help but wonder why, and who, built all those mounds of rocks. Some of the piles have trees growing out of them now, and all the rocks are covered with moss and lichen, so they've been there for awhile, and it's kind of spooky looking in there. The other odd thing about this spot is almost no one knows it's there, but the trail runs right along the edge of where they lay for quite a distance. It just blends into the forest and is almost invisible. I called the local NFS offices and even they didn't know about them. They're on the on the north side up the trail heading from Devil's Den towards The Falls. If you get to the fork in the trail that heads north towards Upper Pilot Knob you've passed them.
There is a small hollow there where the bottom is filled with Witch Hazel that blooms sometime between January and February. It's the very first thing to bloom in the forest and it does it during the coldest part of the year. If you go there on a sunny day and lay back on the boulders lining the creek and breath the perfume from those blossoms you'll be in one of the most wonderful spots in the entire world at that moment. The only people I know that have been there are the ones I brought, but it's there for you too. All you have to do is go find it.
Nice scenery with plenty of spots to camp. Long up hills make it challenging at times, but plenty of water sources for a 2 or 3 day hike.
My gf and I went a week ago and it was our first backing hike. We started at the west end of the trail and I believe it was called the coy bald trailhead. It was very secluded and if you are going to the westside trailhead make sure you have four wheel if it has rained and when you see a painted on no trespassing sign keep going your almost there! There were a few couples backpacking and a boy scout troop, probably because it was so nice. We only did the small loop that goes to the falls and the falls were awesome. Be prepared to do some water crossings on this hike. We will definitely be back soon! Happy trails ☺
P.s if your doing the bigger trails I've heard that it would be wise to bring a map.
We headed out to devils den the long and hard way. Made a complete circle, total miles 15. There are no trail signs and some of the best scenery is not on an actual path. It was beauitful and worth the hike. great scenery and amazing "us" time. simply gorgeous we will be going back.
Used to guide book "50 hikes in the Ozarks" for this hike and it was very helpful. There are many places to camp on this trail. I camped at the falls but there are man other places to camp that also have water access. When we went it was after a hard rain went through and then a cold front right after. The falls were partially frozen and running really hard. There were also beautiful vistas on top of the hills. All in all the trail was very scenic.
A low traffic area good opportunity for solitude.
Got out pretty late, definitely hard to follow the trail after dark. We had an amazing view of the surrounding towns from our campsite! The water was very low at the falls sadly, I imagine they would be amazing when the water is level.
Unremarkable compared to long hike back up hill. Long creek is cool but was shallow.
The trail head I used was off Blair Ridge which I think is the shorter of ways in. Hiked in the fall so very little water, but able to hike down the middle of the river over all the rocks. The falls are a great sight.