Hiking the Ozark Trail
A rugged trail with breathtaking natural wonders and scenic overlooks, the Ozark Trail is a challenge for even experienced hikers. The benefits of hiking the trail include a great workout, an opportunity to get outdoors, and a chance to connect with nature. However, it’s important to prepare properly before hitting the trail. Having the right gear and knowledge will ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable.
The Ozark Trail is a long-distance hiking, backpacking, and in some places, biking and equestrian trail that’s under construction in the Missouri Ozarks. The trail is intended to eventually extend from suburban St. Louis southwest to Arkansas, and more than 350 miles of the trail has been completed as of 2008. The route of the trail is over contiguous public lands and only small portions of it require the acquisition of private property rights-of-way.
It is possible to do a day hike on the trail, but it’s also recommended that you plan to stay overnight at one of the many campgrounds along the way. Besides the fact that it will allow you to fully experience the trail and its surrounding wilderness, camping offers many other advantages including being away from civilization and a chance to sleep under the stars. During your hike, make sure you take a good quality map, water, food, and a first aid kit. It’s also a good idea to bring wading shoes if you think you might have to cross any creeks or rivers.
There are several sections of the trail to choose from, but the Backbone Section is arguably the best for hikers. This section stretches from the Courtois Creek Trailhead to the Onondaga Trailhead, and features the longest stretch of continuous trail. Hikers can enjoy the white oak and pawpaw trees, duck into caves carved into bluffs along the Courtois Creek, and experience a range of landscapes from fens to igneous “shut-ins.” Most thru-hikers travel north to south on this section, but the trail can be walked in either direction.
While the Trail is available year-round, it’s best to be prepared for different conditions each season. The spring is damp and can be muddy, the summer can be hot and humid, and winter temperatures can drop below freezing. In addition to preparing for the weather, it’s also a good idea to wear light clothing and to treat your clothes with permethrin before hiking in order to repel ticks.
Before you hit the trail, it’s a good idea to spend some time on the trail website and read the FAQ page. In addition, you can download the Ozark Trail map for free on HiiKER to help you plan your adventure. The app makes it easy to navigate the trail while you’re on it, and you can even download it so that you have offline access at all times. So if you’re looking for a new and exciting hiking adventure, the Ozark Trail is a great place to start. Ozark Trail Customer Service