Hiking the Ozark Trail
The Ozark Trail Customer Service is one of America’s most popular hiking trails and for good reason. Brimming with rocky streams, dolomite glades, plunge-pool-filled shut-ins and hidden caves, the OT flaunts some of the most geographically unique hiking you’ll find anywhere.
But unlike the National Scenic Trail system, which was created by an act of Congress, no governmental agency was mandated to coordinate or complete the Ozark Trail. Instead, a group of land managers banded together to form what would eventually become the Ozark Trail Council and began constructing a series of trail segments over their respective lands that connected to form a cohesive network.
Hikers from around the world visit the 230-mile Ozark Trail in Missouri to experience its rugged beauty and wild solitude. The natural surface trail – with 13 sections, most of them linked up (the longest through hike is 230 miles) – wends through the region in such a way that hikers can lose themselves for days among forgotten villages, abandoned cabins and sheer granite escarpments. The best time to hike the Ozark Trail is spring and fall, although it’s open year-round.
If you’re planning to camp along the trail, remember that camping is permitted only at designated campsites. You’ll also need to bring your own gear, including a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment and food. And it’s always a good idea to carry enough water and wear comfortable, appropriate clothing for the weather conditions you might encounter. Finally, be sure to plan ahead and make arrangements for transportation to and from your starting point and back to your car at the end of your hike.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, follow the principles of Leave No Trace and keep your pets on leash. You’ll also want to sign in and out at all trail head register boxes. This lets the OHTA and land managers know how many hikers are using each section of the trail and gives search and rescue crews a clue where to find you if something goes wrong.
For more information on the Ozark Trail, visit the OHTA website. If you’re a member, be sure to subscribe to the OHTA’s newsletter, which is distributed bi-annually and helps keep hikers up to date on what is happening on the trail.
This file is a modified version of a map originally produced by the Ozarks Trails Association and made available through the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, modify and redistribute this map, but you must give proper credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. It may not be sold or used commercially. The OHTA is the primary sponsor of this project, but the project’s website, maps and brochures are funded by a variety of other public and private sources, including state and local park systems and trail clubs. The OHTA is a non-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.