Trail Guidelines

Trail Tips & Etiquette

Are you ready to hit the trail?  Before you go, here are a few reminders:

Trail Usage & Restrictions

For the most part, the Ozark Trail is a multi-use trail system, allowing hikers, bikers and equestrians on most sections. However, some sections limit trail usage to certain user groups. NO motorized vehicle traffic is allowed on any part of the OT. Please be sure to check the printed OT flyers available from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (1-800-334-6946). We also list restrictions for each section on each individual trail section page.

Trail Signs

The Ozark Trail travels over land owned by different organizations and government agencies and may be marked with different signs. There are three common markings that are widely used throughout the trail system: a silver diamond and a white and brown sign with a hiker symbol (used in state forests). The most common are the white and green OT assurance markers, seen in the photo at right. You may encounter these signs posted at an angle, this marks a curve in the trail in the direction of the marker's angle. Double-markers indicate a switchback.

Leave No Trace!

Leave No Trace is a national education program to avoid or minimize impacts to natural area resources. It's principles are: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors.

Find out more by visiting the Leave No Trace website.

  • Keep groups small to limit your impact on the trail.

  • Always pack out what you pack in.

  • Travel on designated trails, do not cut switchbacks or take other shortcuts.

  • Camp at least 100 feet from the trail and from water and scenic areas. Please leave your campsite so others won't be able to tell that you have been there.

  • Build a fire only if necessary. Do not encircle fires with rocks and do not build fires on the edges of bluffs, on glades or in caves. Be sure to clear the area of combustible material and make sure you drown the fire completely out with plenty of water before leaving the site.

  • Bury all human waste at least 100 feet from the trail and from any water. Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep, and cover—the top layer of soil is alive with biological decomposers and they will do the rest of the work.

  • Hikers should yield to cyclists and horses. Cyclists yield to horses.