Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the OT

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Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the OT

Postby jfw595 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:35 pm

Friday June 26th to Saturday the 27th, 2 friends and I backpacked from Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins State Park. The plan was to do this trip in 2 nights. Hike to JSI, spend part of Saturday there and hike part of the way back that night and be back to the car on Sunday.

The most important thing to know before backpacking this section is that the map says 15 miles one way. On the map this is measured how a crow flies. In reality it turned out to be 23 miles to the Scour with all the switchbacks. The map also says there's about 7 miles with out a reliable water source. It is more like 10-14 miles if hiking from TS to JSI.

We left Taum Sauk State Park trail head at 10:30am on Friday and reached the Scour at 8pm. We were planning on doing this in two nights but we didn't want to stop on a section of the trail that didn't have water.

On Saturday morning one of my friends was having health problems so we decided to hike to the JSI ranger station to see if they would give us a ride back to Taum Sauk State Park (about 2 miles from our campsite on the Scour). Apparently we were the second group to ask for a ride back this year and it cost us $50 for a ride back in the park's truck.

Overall it was a good trip. Despite not hiking back and the tons of ticks and mosquitoes. The trails were well kept except when you get to the parts where there is no water. It was fairly overgrown and often looked like a game trail.
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby happycamper20 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:22 pm

Our group of six women hiked the OT from Taum Sauk to JSI on June 26 as well. We camped at JSI on Friday and Saturday nights.

Encountered five other hiking parties, four of which were going the opposite direction. One man at Mina Sauk bleakly told us "Good luck; expect a pace of 1 MPH." This lit a fire under us to get going so that we'd make it in time to play in the water at the shut ins, but that didn't happen.

We left TS trail head around 10 AM and arrived at JSI boardwalk/parking lot just as the ranger was telling people to leave (around 8:00, sundown) after four or five total short breaks for snacks, photos, and map-checking. We left one vehicle at TS and one in the JSI lot, which we drove to the JSI campground.

We planned for a 13-14 mile hike, but (similar to what the previous poster said) estimated that we'd done 21 miles. There were places to filter water, but we carried drinking water with us, though two ran out by the time we reached the river.

Even with 98% DEET, two of us found ticks and many had chigger bites from the tall grass.

This section of the trail is fantastic for scenery, variety of terrain and for tree cover. The temperatures were mild (80s) and the sky was sunny.

The official trail map was helpful, but not as detailed as we would have liked. (Is this the norm?) It seemed to us that more landmarks could have been incorporated. Even the trail guide book (didn't bring it along, but read it before and after) could have been more helpful in regard to crossing the scour or heading to the HWY trail head once at the scour, for instance.

Some of the blazes had fallen from their nails on trees.

We all say we'd do it again.
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby mike » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:52 am

Sounds like happycamper and jfw595 had interesting hikes. This is a great section of trail but I do suspect it can get a bit overgrown in the summer. I have hiked from the Highway N trailhead to Taum Sauk Park numerous times and the mileage according to my GPS is about 14 miles. I have not hiked it in the summertime though so perhaps it "draws up" in the winter. :P (pun intended!)

Mike
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby jgoelleraka930 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:07 pm

I have to agree with Mike. I have hiked this section several times and I think the mileage on the map is spot on. However, I believe this is the most difficult section of trail on the OT due to the elevation change and rocky trail so it seems much longer than it is. Although very difficult, this is my favorite section of the OT. Permethrin pared with Deet and hiking pants keep the ticks away when hiking in the summer.
Last edited by jgoelleraka930 on Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby DirtRoadRunner » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:47 am

The section of trail is definitely not 20+ miles - the mileage is spot on at 13 miles from JSI to the top of Taum Sauk (not the Highway 21 trailhead). It is indeed a rough bit of trail though - it is really rocky and has some of the biggest climbs on the entire OT. Definitely a difficult trail to average even 2 mph backpacking unless you are in exceptional shape. This part of trail best left for fall, winter, or spring - the woods in MO just get really grown up and buggy in the summer - which also makes the trail a harder to follow.

I actually passed by the Scour trailhead early on the morning of 6/27 on my bicycle and was surprised to see 10+ cars there. That is probably the busiest I've ever seen the trailhead.
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby happycamper20 » Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:22 pm

For those who are familiar with the mileage, we hiked to the JSI parking lot via connector trail. Would it have been 13-14 miles if we'd gone to the scour trailhead instead? What if we'd gone straight through to the highway crossing?

I'd like to know since this is a hike I plan to do again, just not in the summer months.

We are good map readers and navigators, but had a lengthy debate about which way to go when we reached the scour.
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby mike » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:50 am

I'm not real sure what your end point is. The total mileage from Taum Sauk Mtn trailhead to either the Highway N trailhead or JSI trailhead is pretty much the same mileage unless you stayed on the main trail where it crosses the scour, climbed the mountain, headed south for about a mile then headed west down the mountain to the river, crossing it and picking up the Shut Ins trail back to the parking area which would add a mile or so. Looking at the map: http://www.ozarktrail.com/maps/detailed/TaumSauk2.jpg where did you end up at?

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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby happycamper20 » Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:04 pm

Yup, this is what we did: "stayed on the main trail where it crosses the scour, climbed the mountain, headed south for about a mile then headed west down the mountain to the river, crossing it and picking up the Shut Ins trail back to the parking area which would add a mile or so." Don't know why my pal's step counter was so off on the distance by the time we stopped, or why our pace was so dramatically slower than it ordinarily is.

I like the linked map better than the one I bought--more trails shown than just the OT.
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby youngGun » Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:21 pm

On Aug 1, three friends and I hiked from Taum Sauk Mountain to Scour parking lot on N highway. We started at about 9:00 and got to our cars at about 18:00. The weather was clear and mostly sunny, with temperatures around 93 for the high and with low humidity. Our plan was to hike as close as possible to JSI, camp on the OT Saturday night, and walk into JSI to swim on Sunday. Therefore, we carried all of our gear with us. However, we changed plans and went to our cars instead.

This is a difficult hike. The four of us are in good shape and three are in our early 20s. I consider myself to be in excellent physical condition, trail running on hilly terrain for around 3-7 miles for my workouts. I normally hike around a 2.5 - 3 mph pace. With that said, this hike was tough. The terrain is extremely rocky and uneven to walk on and made our pace less than 2 mph. I now know what a "rugged" trail is like. The heat was also a factor, as well as the increased humidity within the woods.

Water is important for this hike. There is a ten mile stretch between the reliable water sources of Scour creek and Taum Sauk Creek. The maps incorrectly show the location of Taum Sauk Creek. The actual crossing of the OT and Taum Sauk Creek is between Devil's Tollgate and MIna Sauk Falls, around mile 27.5. The map shows the creek to be on the other side of the Tollgate around 26.5. Luckily, we found a small water source around mile 26 and filtered and filled up there. There were two more small water sources along the way around Ketcherside mountain, but I imagine all of these would have been dry after a few more sunny days. Not knowing if the water I carried would be enough, I did not consume enough water and hiked dehydrated the entire trip. Therefore, plenty of water should be carried between Scour and mile 28.

The trail was mostly fine to follow, with a few exceptions. There was some deadfall around mile 26.5. Due to summertime, the trail was heavily overgrown with A LOT of poison ivy touching us as we walked. Around mile 21.5, the trail forks and deceptively leads downhill. We got off trail for a while, got back on, and marked the incorrect trail with rocks.

There are several camping locations along the trail. The first we encountered was soon after descending MIna Sauk Falls, around mile 28. Also, there were a couple around Ketcherside mountain, around 23 - 25. Lastly, there was a sight before the Proffit mountain summit, around 20.2. However, due to the lack of water from Ketcherside to Scour, we pushed to Scour Creek to have a water source. Since we did not know if there would be a suitable camping location between Scour and Black River, and because we were thoroughly exhausted, we changed plans and hiked back to our cars at Scour lot. We then camped at Black River Campgrounds in Lesterville. This was a great call. We devoured some pasta with pesto and some cheesy beans, and then we swam in the refreshing river right next to the campground.

The following day, we went to JSI around 11:30. It was packed and we parked at the upper lot to walk to the water. The water was cool and clean and a good level. Combined with the breeze and sunny sky, it was the best JSI experience I've ever had.

All in all, this was a tough yet enjoyable hike. Knowing water sources and camping locations is key to a good experience. I plan on doing much more of the OT and probably this section again, yet the spring or fall would be a better time to hike.
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Re: Taum Sauk State Park to Johnson Shut-ins Section of the

Postby mike » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:26 pm

YoungGun,

You are right about this being a pretty tough section of trail. The rocks definitely slow you down and the heat and humidity have been miserable for the last few weeks. As for the crossing of Taum Sauk Creek the trail actually crosses it twice. As you said, there is a crossing between Mina Sauk and Devils Tollgate with another crossing at the 26.5 mile mark or real close.

I'm wondering if you may have missed the turn to cross the creek as the trail is on an old roadbed that continues on and it would be easy to miss the crossing because of this. I think the old road runs into an old trail that stays down in the hollow for a ways then heads straight up the south face of Ketcherside Mountain where it joins the Ozark Trail.

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