Notes From Hunter Creek – Hiking In The Ozarks

The Ozarks welcomes outdoors people with many beautiful opportunities. While I prefer winter or fall hiking to spring hiking, the options are endless.

Spring hiking usually involves more stream crossings, more ticks, and quicker weather changes. However, snakes are less numerous and less aggressive due to the cold sub-freezing nighttime temperatures.

Locally, there are two native hiking trails of note. The Hercules Glade top trail begins in southern Douglas County in the Hercules-Glade wilderness and extends into northern Ozark County and eastern Taney County, all within the Mark Twain National Forrest.

In eastern Douglas County and northern Ozark County is located the Devil’s Backbone Ridge trail located on the difficult ridges alongside the North Fork of the White River, also located in the Mark Twain National Forrest.

For these hikes, I strongly recommend purchasing topo maps from the US Forest Service. But if you are quite familiar with the area, you can go to the trailheads and use a rudimentary map provided by the US Forest Service.

When hiking for your safety and those who may end up searching for you, sign in at the trailhead with relevant information: 1st date of hike, last date of hike, number of hikers, and your estimation of overnight camps if any.

To reach the Hercules Glade Top trail, take Highway “A” south of Ava for about four miles and look for signage to the left. Take this paved, then gravel road to a marked trailhead.

To reach the Devil’s Backbone Ridge trail, take Highway “C” east of Dora and proceed four miles to the North Fork River. There you can find marked trailheads on either side of the river on “C” Highway; or you can turn in at Hammond Camp US Forest Service area and proceed all the way south and embark on a connecting trail from Blue Spring.

Although there are still some missing unfinished links, the Ozark Highland trail begins on the Ozark Plateau in eastern Oklahoma and courses thru Arkansas crossing the Buffalo River and then into the Missouri Ozarks ending at Taum Sauk Mountains in eastern Missouri, the highest elevation in Missouri at 1784 feet.

Another option is the Katy trail following the old railroad beds from Weldon Springs south west of St. Charles and continuing for approximately 230 miles to Clinton, Missouri. Watch for bicyclists and wineries.

When hiking consider using a walking stick. Some trekkers use two sticks for even better balance as if using a couple of ski poles. However this does create a slightly larger trace in the environment. I find the use of a walking stick particularly useful when negotiating small streams and on steep downhill stretches of a trail.

Note: The War Between the States, more popularly known as The Civil War, set a precedent of sorts regarding secession of a State.

When the nation was formed, both under the Articles of Confederation and later the Constitution, nowhere in either document is the doctrine of “secession” referred to. In looking at the notes of the Founding Fathers, it was generally assumed that if a state could voluntarily join the Union, it could voluntarily leave the Union. Nowhere in either document lies a provision for one state or a group of states to make war against another state.

This of course, was brought to a head in around 1840 when Sam Houston declared Texas an independent nation. The country was suddenly faced with having an independent state on its southern boarders and this could not be allowed. This was a major reason for the hostilities that later broke out between the United States and Mexico culminating with Zachary Taylor’s beginning victory at Buena Vista and Winfield Scott’s closing victory at Mexico City, ending the Mexican-American War.

Again in 1846 the ugly question of slavery arose as to its legality in Texas, California and other new territories, which were added.

Who knows! The Civil War might have and probably could have been prevented negating the nation’s largest loss of life and treasury.

But the North was pitted against the South, rural interests conflicted with urban interests; and Republicans and Democrats were spluttered into non-compromising positions by the radical wings of their respective party.

So no compromise and subsequent disaster. Sound Familiar!

Now, get up and go enjoy the beautiful outdoors.