Berryman Trail: Campground to Edward Beecher, and Back

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Berryman Trail: Campground to Edward Beecher, and Back

Postby ImWithSadie » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:31 pm

Trip Dates: Thursday Sept. 29 & Friday Sept. 30

I've wanted to hike the Berryman Trail for a couple of years. I had to take a couple of days off work to do it, but I was finally able to make the hike! I didn't hike the entire loop. I started at the Berryman Campground, went up to Edward Beecher rec area, then came back.

The drive down to Berryman wasn't bad. I came up through Steelville. Just a caution for those traveling east along Highway 8: study your map. There are two Berryman roads, the first road dead ends after a while (according to my map) while the second Berryman road (aka County Road 207) is the one you want to take. Fortunately I checked my map prior to departure, otherwise I would have turned off on the first Berryman road and been quite upset to learn they moved the trail!

There was no one else at the campground when I arrived. There's plenty of parking, regardless, and an outhouse for those who need it (I did). I saw two access points for the Berryman Trail. One trail was for the "east loop" while the other just said "Berryman Trail". The east loop entrance confused me - Berryman is a loop, so how can any access point be innately west or east?

Anyway, I took what I assumed to be the main entrance ("Berryman Trail"). After perhaps a 15 minute walk I arrived at an intersection. My choices were to continue left or right. The trail to the left had a sign which indicated mileage to certain destinations, such as Bell Mountain. The trail to the right had no sign. I wasn't sure which was to go. My gut told me to go right, but my map suggested left. I went left.

After about 20 minutes of easy walking I decided I wasn't on the Berryman because the trail seemed to be going south. Then I remembered reading a forum post by someone who had said something about taking the wrong route and ending up at Highway 8. I decided to backtrack, then discovered why the walk had been so easy: I had been going downhill! The return walk wasn't quite so easy.

Arriving back at the intersection, I took the path to the right and continued on. Shortly thereafter I turned off on a logging road thinking it was the trail, but after 15 minutes of walking with no sight of an OT trail sign, I backtracked (incidentally, to the people responsible for nailing up the OT signs: thank you!).

Finally, I was back on the Berryman. In retrospect, the start of the trail seems a bit of a muddle, but once you really get going on the Berryman Trail, it's an easy trail to follow. However, as I walked the first couple of miles I had very little confidence that I was actually on the Berryman. It wasn't until I hit the first marked forest road (shown as FS-2266A/2607 on the GORC map) that I was 100% sure I was following the Berryman. That was a great moment - if you happened to be in Berryman on Thursday you might have heard me yell "YES!!".

From a hiker's perspective, the trail is in great shape. There are a lot of hills, but there were only a couple of times when my heartbeat felt like it exceeded the recommended range for my age group. I'm 40, spend half an hour on a treadmill four times a week, and had absolutely no problem walking Berryman. I figure I walk about 2MPH, which is a good pace but definitely isn't speed walking.

I arrived at the Edward Beecher Recreation Area a little earlier than I expected. The rec area is small, and the well is easy to find. It actually looks like a good place to camp: the ground is flat, there is a fire pit, and there is a large open space for star gazing. But, it also looks like the type of place people will drive in and party at. I didn't want to deal with that, so after a short rest I refilled my water and headed back toward Berrycamp Campground.

I camped about 15 minutes north of the forest service road marked as FS-2266B/2608 on the GORC map. Finding a camping spot was easy. Wading through the undergrowth, I stopped at the first flat land I found. It was closer to the trail than I would have liked, but I couldn't pass up a spot with a firepit, a nice log for sitting, and a pre-dug cathole or rootball. No sooner had I shrugged off my backpack than I noticed a dead tree nearby. It looked like the kind of tree which falls from the base. I decided to move on. Looking east, I saw another candidate campsite just 20 yards away.. After checking it out, I saw that it had a nice log for sitting and a pre-dug cathole or rootball. Plus, the ground was even flatter than the ground at my first choice. I was sold. I went so far as to lay out a groundcloth before noticing a dead tree within range of my tent. Casting around, I saw another candidate campsite 30 yards to the east. I was pleased to see it had an acceptable log for sitting, the ground was almost perfectly flat with no rocks or sticks, and there were no dead trees. But, I did find an abandoned tent. I didn't find a dead body (I checked) so I just kicked the tent aside and set up camp.

Dinner was Mountain House chili mac (recommended) and Jack Daniels sour mash (recommended). Civil twilight was around 7, and by 8 it was pretty dark and the owl choir came online. I live near a city, and while I do hear an owl once in a while, I usually just hear one or two owls. It was cool hearing at least a couple of different species of owl hooting from all around. Around 9 I started to fall asleep, but woke to the sound of ATVs. All of Mark Twain forest to tear up, and for some reason they decided to tear up my neck of the woods. I can't see how a Thursday night AVT run wouldn't involve alcohol and I was somewhat concerned they would run me over. Fortunately, although the riders were close enough for me to hear them talking, I didn't get run over or ever see their lights.

The night was a little rough. My pillow wasn't very pillowy. I had to get up several times for a nature call: a natural consequence of over hydrating at the well, I think. My hand fell asleep.

I woke to a brisk, pleasant morning. Breakfast was Mountain House scrambled eggs & bacon (not recommended), a double dose of Nescafe Taster's Choice hazlenut instant coffee (recommended), and a Clif bar (it's an energy bar, much better than Power Bar. Recommended. I like the oatmeal & raisin).

I was back on the trail at 7:45. I saw a couple of cyclists at FS-2266B/2608, but otherwise saw no one else on the trail.

Overall, a great trip. Next year I plan to do the entire loop.
Last edited by ImWithSadie on Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Berryman Trail: Campground to Edward Beecher, and Back

Postby ImWithSadie » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:48 pm

There are several paths at the Edward Beecher rec area. Coming from Berryman Campground, with the well in front of you, the path to the left is clearly a road. There is a sign at the well indicating the start of the path, however it appears to be pointing to a rutted road. This road/path is just to the right of the well. The second path to the right looks like it might be the Berryman Trail. The third path to the right appears to be a logging road. Which path is the continuation of the Berryman Trail?

Are there any other confusing areas on the Berryman Trail?
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Re: Berryman Trail: Campground to Edward Beecher, and Back

Postby Jim » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:48 pm

The trail does have a few places where it's easy to grab the wrong route. The West side you hiked has mostly been rerouted over the last year, hence the great shape. When you continue on you will find the reason for the reroutes....It's 70+ years old and abused.

East Loop vs. Berryman - Blame it on the creation of the Ozark Trail. The OT has taken the western leg of the Berryman from near Harmon Spring down to the "intersection" you mentioned that turns toward Hwy 8.
With any luck and a few more adoptatrail volunteers we may get Berryman Trail in it's entirety added to the OTA AAT program....But only if we can get some AAT support.
FS 2608 and 2607 have some nice campsites that have been in existence for some time thanks mostly to the hunters of sorts. Most of the FS roads that cross the or connect to the OT/Berryman have campsites not far from the trail intersections. It's just a matter of walking a bit more.

ATV traffic in and around the artesian well area is almost common, as a couple old jeep trails cut through the area. Hunters also use the ATV's for access...PS> It's Archery Deer Season....Sept 15 - Jan ??

As the previous AAT member for this section I can tell you that in 5 years I never had any incidents with locals or non' locals while camping in the same areas.
(I have a few other campsites - should you want to tackle the rest of the trail.).....But for that data - you will have to pay in advance via a trail work day...nothings free anymore.... ;) Besides you know you'll meet some like minded friends.

Beecher Rec Area - aka Artesian Well - Good water (I drink it unfiltered, but only from the pipe...not the pit.) From the Berryman trail Clockwise entering the Beecher clearing look to about 1'oclock...that is the BT/OT. It will wind up the little drainage for a bit then turn up hill....The next few miles are probably my favorite of the entire trail...Bench cut Singletrack through the mature pines!

Note- Berryman Trail is designated with Silver/Grey/White Diamonds...or is that a Rhombus now that the school systems wanna change what we know...
The OT is marked as you found ...with OT placards. Maybe someday we can upgrade our trail markers to identify the section you are currently hiking...ah...the opportunities abound.

As for other confusing area on the Berryman, Harmon Spring - intersection with the OT...(reroutes in progress if not complete). After crossing the creek and climbing up the ridge from Harmon Spring there are some logging road crossings that the trail slaloms through a few times. Keep and eye out for trail markers and singletrack. Brazil Creek (pronounced BRAZLE by the locals.) Campground....After climbing down the dangerous hoursetrap switchbacks to the creek follow the trail into the campground turning right and follow across the creek again. (Easier to walk the road here)...the trail continues on the opposite side of the road about 100 yards up on the left...Look for arrows or whitepaint on the pavement.... Things are pretty easy for a while...just big ups and downs...This side of the "loop" is rough and much more rugged hiking....hence the need for AAT volunteers. There is a section in the valley with a road crossing that sometimes causes confusion...look for singletrack....not old road bed. If you find yourself walking an old road...odds are you missed a turn....
Aside from that...the rest of the hike looks like the last 5 miles you walked...awesome woodlands.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Berryman Trail: Campground to Edward Beecher, and Back

Postby Big Jim Mac » Sat Oct 01, 2011 9:07 pm

When you hit the junction with the Ozark Trail just trust the signs. The OT goes south to the left, the Berryman/OT more or less straight ahead. But if you take the wrong turn, you only lose a mile, albeit an uphill return mile. Once you get to Beecher, the artesian well concrete points to the correct trail, and there is a sign that is hard to see until you are on the trail. There's also a sign on the road that says wrong way if memory serves me. Here's some more on the Berryman from my story in Rural Missouri. ... ex.php#/10

It's my favorite trail and one of my favorite places in Missouri. I really enjoy it in the winter time. If you really want to get to know the trail, come do the Berryman Marathon or 50 mile run with the SLUGs, St. Louis Ultrarunners Group. I know every inch of the trail now. Word is we are having a Berryman 100 miler in September next year. I've been running there about every other week all summer. Once ran it in the spring during a gentle rain. The dogwoods were in bloom and had lined the trail with blossoms, felt like royalty! Loving the new trail build, thanks to all who worked on it!
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Re: Berryman Trail: Campground to Edward Beecher, and Back

Postby ImWithSadie » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:19 pm

I had the opportunity to hike Berryman again last week. This time I did the entire loop, instead of just a relatively short in & out hike. I did the loop in two days, which turned out to be a mistake. 17 miles in one day is just too much. I was actually doing okay until I passed Harmon Springs. As you walk east past Harmon Springs, there is an extended climb, and it took a lot out of me. I had to keep going, though, in order to reach Brazil Creek. Once at Brazil Creek, I stocked up with water (over 4L, after filling up a couple of collapsible canteens) and then hiked another mile before camping. Spent a pleasant night in a hammock and then finished the rest of the trail the following day.

The trail was in fantastic condition. Even the eastern section of the trail looked great (for some reason I was expecting it to be overgrown and difficult to follow). The trail was surprisingly clean. Last year I picked up what trash I could as I hiked, but recall passing several items which were too large or bulky to carry out. This year, I saw just two pieces of smallish trash. I assume volunteers were out recently to clean up (thank you!).

Walking from the area around Beecher to Harmon Springs was interesting. The Forest Service had recently burned the area, and in some places deadwood was still smoking. The burn was quick and precise; around Beecher I spotted a few trees with blackened trunks, but for the most part only the leaf litter was burned. Even the saplings were relatively unharmed by the fire. The trail itself was undamaged, even though it was covered with dead leaves and pine needles, and the land to both sides blackened. I wonder how they do it.

I heard a few gunshots south of Brazil Creek - which was of concern as I was not wearing orange. Managed to escape the trail without any bullet holes, though.

There are a few areas of the trail which I think need some improvement. There are a couple of places south of Harmon Springs where someone has blocked off the non-BT trail with pink tape. That saved me from taking the wrong trail and I appreciate it, but I think some additional work is needed. I suggest affixing OT signs on trees so people know the correct path to take. After all, ribbon can break and fly away. There is a section on the eastern part of the trail (perhaps around mile 13 on the GORC map, I have forgotten) where the trail abruptly ends at a road. You just naturally want to cross the road and continue, but there's no trail there; for a person walking clockwise, the trail actually continues a short distance down the road to the left, without actually crossing the road. I don't recall seeing a BT sign there, but I could be wrong. Finally, at around mile 22, the trail crossed a road, and I wasn't able to spot a BT sign on the trail as it continued past the road. The trail here was actually a little difficult to follow at this point, which is the only reason why it mattered. I felt this area was the most in need of attention, due to the condition of the trail and the lack of signage.

Edit: I meant to ask, there is a pine tree at Berryman with scaled bark. It's quite common there. What kind of pine is it?
Last edited by ImWithSadie on Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Berryman Trail: Campground to Edward Beecher, and Back

Postby Big Jim Mac » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:08 pm

The SLUGs (St. Louis Ultrarunners Group) just did trail maintenance at Berryman, that's why it was in such good shape. We have adopted the section from Highway 8 to where the OT splits off, but we always do the entire trail if we have enough volunteers. In May, we will run the trail...twice!
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