Heavily forested hillsides, clear-flowing streams and solitude are all features to be found within Big Sugar Creek State Park. Nestled deep within southwest Missouri, Big Sugar Creek State Park preserves a portion of the Elk River Section of Missouri's Ozarks. This area of the state has a distinct natural history, featuring many plants and animals that are less common or absent in other areas of Missouri. Some typify the southern plains, including armadillos, while others, like the Ozark chinquapin tree, are restricted to the Ozark highlands. The Elk River watershed, which includes Big Sugar Creek, is a portion of the Arkansas River Basin that extends into Missouri. It brings with it a unique fish population, including the Neosho orangethroat darter. Because of the park's natural significance, 1,613 of its 2,082 acres have been designated as the Elk River Breaks Natural Area. Ozark Chinquapin Trail, a three-mile loop trail through the natural area, follows a small bedrock stream, between towering hills, before heading up into the upland woodlands and glades. Big Sugar Creek State Park is still in the development stage. Future amenities planned include a day-use area, a special-use camping area that will be available for use by organized youth groups and a canoe launch.
Our visit was on a drizzly Monday in November, and the gloomy weather didn't spoil this trail one bit. The creek bed, rock formations and bluffs, and varied vegetation make this trail a "must." I feel like a visit in winter might reveal some neat small waterfalls and cascades if the creek fills up.
The trail gets a little hard to find at one point, but the dog knew right where he was going. Other than that one spot, the yellow blazes make this a very easy trail to follow. There are restrooms at the trailhead, and the ranger was cleaning them when we arrived - thank you!
Amber P. on Chinquapin Trail
I was blown away by this trail. it was harder and easier that I thought all at the same time. Beautiful and secluded. I would be nervous taking children(especially younger) the full length, especially the back half, due to rugged terrain and drop offs. There are many, many areas where you have to pay attention while walking. Make sure you load up on the tick repellant and sunscreen and you're good to go!
Awesome little loop trail. A little creek follows most of the trail and must be crossed several times. The creek was low and easy to cross but had enough water to provide small water falls, crystal clear pools, and the sounds of running and falling water. The nature and scenery are quite diverse and include features such as moss covered trails, fern covered hillsides, solid rock creek bed, lots of rock outcrops and small bluff lines. It's an easy trail and would be a great one for families. I plan to go back in the spring.
Kenny R. on Chinquapin Trail
Nice day hike on an easy trail. Very quiet & peaceful on a warm December day. I've hiked the trail 3 times in the past 5 days. Nice place to get away and think and see some beautiful rock formations and bluffs. I'm an avid barefoot hiker and it gets pretty rocky in some places but it is a nice trail to hike barefoot...just have some shoes handy just in case. Next time I'll take my hammock and string it up and just enjoy the silence. Can't wait to see what it looks like in the Spring.
This is a fun little trail for somebody just looking to be out in the woods. There's nothing too dramatic as far as scenery goes, still worth checking out.
The best part is at the east end of a loop you will come to a clearing. Keep looking to your right, there is a old piece of farm equipment that a tree has nearly engulfed over time. It's pretty incredible to see.
My family and I loved this trail. The kids had a blast with all of the stream crossings, and my wife and I enjoyed the many photogenic moments that came about from the beautiful wild flowers and the bedrock streams.
The trail was a bit over grown, and the warm day made it plenty buggy, so we checked for ticks a couple of times just to be sure.
We saw a deer, or maybe an elk, as it ran away (whatever it was, it was big). We also had a snake cross our path, which gave the kids a good scare.
All in all, it was fun trail. It can be narrow at times, and runs close to some cliffs, but it was a good hike and a great day trip for the family.