Explore the most popular birding trails in Mark Twain National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Enjoyed this trail. Natural bridge was interesting and the trail itself was pleasant. Lots of sinkholes along the way, and interesting fungi to look at. Pretty easy walk through the woods.

Ran this section with friends point to point southbound from Hwy J trailhead to Hwy P / Hwy 72 trailhead on 11/23/18. The trail was in good shape and we had no trouble finding our way. Especially liked the Sutton Bluff section. Fenix 3 GPS watch got 28.4 miles with 4200’ of gain

https://www.strava.com/activities/1981156432

Hiked west from Johnson Shutins trail in the day use area of the park, to the Ozark trail junction. Then we followed the OT blazes west over highway N and north toward Tom Sauk mountain. Very rugged terrain most of the way. Trail blazes are difficult to find in more than a few places. Keep an eye out for the hikers cairns, they kept us from getting lost more than once. Also if you don't see any blazes for a while look for two horizontal nails in the trees about 4 inches apart. They mark where a blaze used to be. That also served to keep us on the trail a few times. Very nice hike other than the trail not being very well marked in some places. Watch out for hogs. My brother and I jumped a small herd rooting right in the middle of our path.

I'm not exactly sure why the this section is so different from every other trail in Missouri, it just is. Great time, just bring water. You may have easily done a 5 mile trail without needing water before, but there's 5 miles and then there's 5 miles on the Taum Sauk.

Not a bad trail, but not very good either. A simple stroll with 3 small creek crossings, but the trails aren’t marked well. The biggest payoff is the small cave but it’s not marked at all and you can miss it since you have to veer off the main path down an unmarked trail by at least 150 meter.

Meh...

Good hike, not overly scenic, but typical of area. Couple bluff views, some water crossings. backpacker camps exist along trail.

Rugged. Lots of ankle turners. Best views in the state.

Great trail! It’s for sure rugged. Expect to be looking down a lot, but, make sure to stop and take in the scenery. My wife, daughter, son, two dogs and I did a quick 3 miles in from Taum Sauk mountain and stayed the night. The waterfall was a trickle, however, still a pretty awesome site for Missouri. We saw a lot of fence lizards and turtles. The coyotes were also having a great time throughout the night, but, never came very close. All in all a very nice and well marked trail.

hiking
2 months ago

The view at the top is worth this quick hike.

There are pretty views and rock formations, mostly shady woods with open sunny glades closer to Johnson Shut-ins. Oh and rocks, rocks, rocks.

We hiked from the Taum Sauk trailhead to the Highway N trailhead, 13.5 miles. We did this over 1 ½ days. We have done several day hikes but this was our first overnight backpacking trip so we wanted it to be fairly short. We traveled from St. Louis to the Highway N Trailhead with two cars then shuttled ourselves to the other end. We didn’t start hiking until lunch time so stopped a couple miles in at Mina Sauk Falls to eat. It was just a trickle of water that day but still a neat area to eat and explore.

Based on other reviews we expected the trail to be rocky and it sure is! Really only a few short sections the whole way were without large rocks. It got to my hips the second day. (I’m 49). My college age son and his friend faired better than my husband and I but after a section with a lot of rock slides they commented “that section sucked”. We did a lot of training preparing for a different hike and were used to 40 lb. packs and a 2mph pace. I had a lighter pack but we only managed about 1.5 mph.

There were two nice camping areas by Taum Sauk Creek and one a little further down. We tried out our water filtration system at the creek but camped further on at the last spot. It is by a ravine with a storm creek that may have water some of the time but didn’t when we were there. We expected to dry camp though and had brought extra water. The map we got from the Ozark Trail Association showed all the water sources and was accurate.

Chiggers and spiders were pretty much the only wildlife we encountered. After about four miles in we didn’t encounter other hikers either. I’m sure the hot August weather had something to do with that. We enjoyed the solitude and quiet at our camp site.

The trail was really well marked. I read a previous review before going that said the trail was not well marked. Someone must have done some maintenance between those times because we didn’t need our map or compass at all. Many of the blazes looked new. When we got to the end we car camped at Johnson Shut-Ins State park and enjoyed the shut-ins the next day. Overall a nice three day weekend.

hiking
3 months ago

Giving two stars due to the abundance of TICKS! The first mike of this trail is narrow and through scrub timber. The creek bed is cool - neat rocks, sometimes you have to take the bank - no clear trail through these sections - no way to avoid walking through brush and weeds. We got 2 miles in and turned back because we realized our legs were covered with tiny ticks. Would not do this one again.

hiking
4 months ago

Good trail, didn't see snakes, got a couple ticks. a little bit of experience hiking, makes this trail real fun. couple places to camp, no idea if you're allowed to or not though. this is a low maintained trail and that includes the road up to the trailhead. small cars can make it but its rough. i plan on hiking it again and probably camping off the trail.

hiking
4 months ago

I walked <2 miles on the Moon Loop and got 11 ticks on my clothes. Trailhead off the Ginn Lane was a bit hidden. On the bright side, the sunrise and scenery were beautiful!

hiking
5 months ago

This is a double-track ATV/forestry road, there is a small parking spot on the shoulder of the blacktop road. Really cool view of the lake off off bluffs about .6/mile in, but the rest of the hike down the lake shore is unremarkable.

This trail passes through mostly old growth forest and has some extremely large oak trees along the way. The right portion of the figure eight as mapped by this app is easy to follow. The left portion of the figure eight as mapped is almost nonexistent in some parts and evidently no longer used or maintained.

backpacking
6 months ago

Beware of ticks, they were falling from the trees on us at the campsite. The trail from creek to the campground is very overgrown but manageable. Enjoyed my time on Lower Rock Creek as always! This is an unofficial trail that is not maintained, be prepared for less than ideal conditions.

Beautiful. I have to say some of the reviews mentioning snakes kept me off of this trail for a while. Didn't see a single one! Perhaps the best thing about this is you can make it as long or as short as you wish. It's a nice walk to the stream itself, and for those who want a more rugged experience, there's plenty of that up and downstream. We had the entire place to ourselves on a summer Sunday! never saw another car after leaving Hwy. E.

hiking
6 months ago

Easy to follow trail with a nice view of the Ozarks at the top of the bluff. I've been at least 5 times and it's never crowded. If you go in early Autumn the view is even better. Beware of seed ticks though.

Beautiful hike with a natural bridge at the end that has bats. Tall sycamores along the way with a couple of creek crossings. Well worth it.

hiking
7 months ago

It’s a really beautiful area as many have stated. It may be different with very high or low water levels but when we were there there was pool after inviting pool as we hiked along the creek. Some of them were ~20 feet across.. Next time I’ll do some wading.

Knocked off one star because of how poorly marked and maintained the trail was. There are a couple pics of one of our group with her toes on a 6” ledge. I doubt that was the way the trail went but it sure appeared to lead us there.

camping
7 months ago

I rate this as difficult, because of the challenging nature of climbing over and around the big rocks, which are incredibly slippy when wet.
You can camp at the trailhead by your car, or at the river some 40 mins in or further upstream, I found it difficult to get around rocks with my backpack, and because I was on my own, return and camped at a safer place. This is a beautiful site to camp, relax and hike. Totally recommend it.

backpacking
7 months ago

Every other review I’ve read is pretty accurate. My GF(inexperienced) and I hiked yesterday 4/28/18.
The trails are definitely not maintained, which is fine with me because it means not many people go here. It’s not the easiest trail to navigate; with occasional rock climbing, rock hoping and super slick rock along the river. Yes there are definitely an abundance of snakes but that’s just a part of nature, watch where you put your hands & feet and you should be fine. The trail can be difficult in places and easy in other spots but well worth the experience if the river and falls (lots of rain last week), the views and serenity of it all.
We will be back again to see more soon. I expect during the summer it would be incredibly overgrown, so come prepared to work for it.

got confused on all the trails interconnecting. overall a good hike

Our first impression of the horse camp side was pretty dismissal. 2pm and there's an extremely intoxicated guy carrying a handle of vodka and yelling obscenities at someone else at another site, shortly after he passed out in a camp chair. The two young teens with him came over to us and invited us to party with them later - they looked like they might have been old enough to drive, maybe. They said they camp frequently there. That was enough to make us not interested in spending any time here.

backpacking
7 months ago

Very rugged terrain. There are several areas of the trail that have deep horse ruts. It would probably be impassable if it was muddy. Trails were somewhat marked. Lots of hills. Cross over several creeks, or the same creek several times. Camped alone a portion of Smith Creek. Saw a few other campsites along the way. Good for a one-nighter close to home. Will probably go back and explore the area again and spend another night. Decent stay.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice view at the highest point of the trail. The lower portion of the trail runs by the river.

Nice area but not an easy walk by any means due to horse ruts

I hiked this trail plus several more miles to hw 21. The trail was well maintained as well as the camp sights. You gain elevation quickly and enjoy a challenging hike with rewarding views. Not much water so bring plenty.

Nice primitive no fee campground. I suspect always full in the summer. It s a trail head for the nice 1/2 mile boy scout created trail, but also the larger Cedar Creek trailhead.

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