Trip on a trail yet to be-- the new Taum Sauk reroute

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Trip on a trail yet to be-- the new Taum Sauk reroute

Postby John » Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:06 pm

Today I accompanied Robert S. on a trip along the "Taum Sauk Reroute," a trail yet to be built through Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. The purpose of our trip was to obtain GPS data of the proposed reroute for future OTA maps, plus look at any logistical issues we may have during upcoming construction.

We started the trip by parking along a series newly-built picnic shelters in the old campground. This area is still under construction and will be a day-use area for people visiting the Shut-Ins. There is a lot of work going on here, and the park superintendent told us work will begin soon on the visitor's center, the new superintendent's house and a variety of other buildings. Perhaps the park will open in May of next year? We'll have to wait and see.

We crossed the Black River with little difficulty and proceeded up the scour towards the new trail. Along the way we visited the future site of a scour overlook deck. This deck will be reached via a mile of trail from a new parking area just off Highway N and north of the Black River bridge. Another trail will lead from the observation deck to a connection with the Ozark Trail. The observation deck parking lot will also serve as an Ozark Trail trailhead.

We continued past the deck and over to the point where the trail descends Profitt Mountain to the scour valley. You can see a few pictures of the scour and the point where the new reroute will begin by visiting: http://flickr.com/photos/85686620@N00/s ... 9438/show/ .

I turned on the GPS unit and we started our trip along the proposed trail route. After a 500' walk across the scour we entered the woods and proceeded uphill, bushwhacking through thick growth and looking for surveyor's ribbons that mark the route. After a quarter-mile we had a reinforced appreciation for completed trail!

The route took us up to a "saddle" at a relatively-mild climb, but the next 1/4 mile was brutal-- 13%-15% grade with no relief. This will NOT be your favorite part of the new trail, but that's the way it goes, I suppose. Robert found a huge hornet's nest along the way... I would have taken a picture but I'm not that fond of hornet stings, so I scuttled past it quickly.

Once the trail levels out it is VERY cool for the next 1/4 - 1/2 mile. The route weaves its way around (and sometimes through) rock outcroppings and boulders, reminiscent of the trail on the back side of Elephant Rocks park. We very much enjoyed this part of the trip.

After a bit of near-level travel the route heads uphill again to avoid steep and rugged terrain. Personally, I would have liked the trail to travel lower on this hillside, as the rock and views further down the hillside are quite stunning. There is always some give-and-take when designing trails, and I suppose I understand the reasoning behind the route taken.

After a bit more climb we started our decent to the eventual crossing of the Black River at a point about a half-mile south of the Shut-Ins. The route has a few turns then makes a sharp switchback at the top of a short bluff overlooking the river valley. This is a great spot to stop for water, food and pictures. I would have liked to done all three, but we were only a few minutes from the river and I needed to jump in the water, for I was hot, hot, hot!

The area where the route crosses the Black River is very scenic. We stopped for lunch and I couldn't resist stripping down to boxers and jumping in the cool riffles. This area has a remote "western" feel to it and the gurgling waters slide over sheets of old volcanic rock. I think Robert wanted to take a nap and dream of the completed trail. I wanted some dry clothes, so we headed back on the old Ozark Trail back to the Ranger Station, then back to our vehicles.

We'll be working on a "construction plan" for the new route once we get the required paperwork filed and perhaps tweak the route in a few spots. I'm crossing my fingers that we can start construction on the new trail sometime between January and March.

It was a difficult day of bushwhacking in the summer heat, but I had a great time.
John
 
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Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 5:11 pm
Location: Berryman

Re: Trip on a trail yet to be-- the new Taum Sauk reroute

Postby Big Jim Mac » Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:34 pm

Thanks for the report, really need to get that section up and running again. I had talked to the super at the State Fair and heard plans were in the works. Taum Sauk was the first trail I hiked. Did it with the Sandoval's backpacking class at East Central College, remember to this day two things -- the awe of seeing the Arcadia Valley for the first time, and how cold it was wading Black River in early March! Our canteens froze.

Almost forgot, watch for the cover of the October Rural Missouri, just might be an Ozark Trail picture there...
Big Jim Mac
 
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Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:36 pm
Location: Jefferson City, MO


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