Know Before You Hike the Ozark Trail in Missouri

Courtois River Section of Ozark Trail

Photo Credit: Jessica Bostick

Know before you go– Missouri Hunting Seasons

The Huzzah Conservation Wildlife Area trail head for the Ozark Trail, perfect for a single or multi-day hike, sits just beyond the entrance drive of Ozark Outdoors. Hiking enthusiasts especially enjoy the chance to get a few breaths of fresh air in the spring or fall. Another popular choice, close to Ozark Outdoors, is the Berryman Trail.
Ideal conditions exist for catching a glimpse of skittering squirrels, listening to the serenade of song birds, perched on their leaf laden platforms, or spotting a deer as it bounds through the forest. Missouri hiking offers plenty of geological highlights as well. Hills, valleys, and ancient volcanic lava beds abound, hidden beneath layers of leaves and fallen trees.

Ozark Trail along the Courtois River

Photo Credit: Jessica Bostick

Some of the oldest landforms in North America exist along Missouri hiking trails. With a combination of plant and animal varieties, there’s something for everyone. Gnarled blackjacks, majestic oaks, black hickory, and strong standing elms are interspered among granite bluffs and creavices. Pileated woodpeckers, wood thrush and ovenbirds are abundant. Wild turkeys, red tailed foxes, and rarely seen Missouri owls all make their homes along the Ozark Trail.

Another attraction for hiking in Missouri, is the bountiful waterways that run in and through our woods. There’s nothing like peace by a river, or resting beside a gurgling stream. When you feel overwhelmed by the daily grind, getting active in an outdoor environment, is the perfect tonic to bring your energy back.

But before you go out, there’s a few helpful hints you need to know:

Prepare for Your Hiking Trip in Advance

Hiking and Backpacking in Missouri

Scotia Furnace. Photo Credit: Jessica Bostick

Resist the temptation of a spur-of-the-moment hiking trip. Even a short trip can have unforeseen complications. Experienced hikers know that there is nothing  more important than preparation when it comes to hiking the great  outdoors.

    • Prepare your body. Hiking can be a highly demanding physical activity that requires you to be in good shape to succeed and to avoid injury.
    • Tell at least two other people where you are going, and an approximate time schedule for your trip. In case of emergency, where you are unable to make contact with the outside world, this ensures someone has an idea of where to find you.
    • Make a list of things to take, (see below), and check them off as you load them in your vehicle.
    • If you are going on an overnight trip especially, but even for a daytrip, know how to pack your backpack efficiently.
    • Collect and inspect your gear. Shoes, tents, clothes and other gear need to be in good condition and weather-appropriate.
    • Check the weather forecast often, but be aware that the weather is often unpredictable in Missouri. Thunderstorms often involve lightening, and you should take necessary precautions for possible strikes according to NOAA.
    • Take only what you really need. When it comes to hiking, the lighter you are, the better you are.
    • Get used to altitude if you’re going to tackle Missouri mountains or high standing hills.  This is called ‘acclimatization,’ and it can help you avoid the unfortunate  effects of oxygen depletion. Lack of oxygen can lead to headache, fatigue,  shortness of breath and confusion.
    • Follow the rules of environmentally sensitive hiking, this is the best way to ensure that today’s beautiful hiking trails stay pristine for tomorrow and for future generations of nature  lovers. This is the ‘Leave no trace’ philosophy of outdoor activities.
Missouri Backpacking

Backpacking 101

What to Bring:

    • Remember to get good hiking boots, hiking socks and moleskin to apply to any blisters on your feet. New hiking shoes should be broke  in in advance to avoid blisters.
    • A day pack is large enough to carry all equipment needed for a day trip. It will hold your water bottles, compass, Swiss army knife, lunch, trail mix, camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, wet wipes and any other miscellaneous items.
    • Hiking poles are helpful. The poles keep you steady and reduce the potential of slipping or falling.
    • Be sure to take a minimum of two bottles of water per person because not having enough hydration can lead to dangerous consequences.
    • Hat – To keep both the sun and the rain off.
    • Rain gear. At the very least bring along a garbage bag, but also know Ozark Outdoors sells rain ponchos folded so tightly they’ll barely take up any room in a backpack.
    • At least a small First Aid Kit. Ozark Outdoors usually carries pre-packed kits that are extremely lightweight and contain more supplies than the average medicine cabinet.
    • A watch, since time passes quickly on the trail, especially if there’s lots to explore. Hikers should know in advance the average time their hike will take in both directions and plan accordingly.
    • Binoculars — Hikers need to pause for a break or phenomenal view once in a while and binoculars can only add to the experience, especially if bird-watching is part of the appeal of the hike.
    • Camera — Some would consider this an essential. Remember the saying, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”
    • GPS/altimeter/compass/thermometer — The more back country the hike is, the more essential these items become.
    • A great attitude, a patient demeanor, and an enthusiastic outlook about your refreshing time outside.