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Photo Editorial @ Taum Sauk

Okay, we are using a new writer at 573. His first story is about the Taum Sauk Mountian State Park. It is the highest point in Missouri and why not start there. Our new writer, Joe Bruno, is a recently retired fireman, an actor, and writer. His attitude toward life fits right in with ours here at the 573 Magazine—positive and observant. So of course we gathered up a few happy hikers to lead the way, and set out on this photo editorial.

Meet Pyper and Rebecca

They are both hard working young women, 17 and 18, from Marquand. They both claim they love the area and love hiking—we put them to the test on the mountain.

My name is Pyper Voelker. I love to play volleyball and being outside. I currently have my CNA license and I want to be a nurse in the future.
My name is Rebecca Browning. I’m originally from Cincinnati Ohio. I just moved down here recently and I graduated with the 2022 class at Marquard High School. I currently work at McDonald’s, but I’m hoping soon to go to college for maybe cosmetology or nursing.
It's long on the trail to the falls before you hit exposed rock.

Taum Sauk is said to be named for the Piankeshaw Indian Chief, Sauk-Ton-Qua. As mountain peaks go, Taum Sauk is certainly not the highest at 1772 feet, but it must be one of the easiest to reach. The actual summit is marked by a sofa-sized chunk of granite less than a quarter mile from the parking lot of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, and there's only a 10 feet change in elevation to reach it—all paved by the way.

Our happy hikers pause for a drink and a rock stack.

It's said to be good luck to pile rocks on a hike. Who knows?

Taum Sauk is the highest point in Missouri located in the St Francois Mountains. She's one the oldest mountains in the United States—grand as the Rockies at one time, worn down now to a nub. You can think of them as just the roots of the mountains that once stood there miliions of years ago. They are older than the Rockies and the Appalachian Mountains combined. A geologist would tell you the rock that makes up the mountains is of volcanic origin and dates to one and a half billion years ago.

The peak is located in Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, a short drive south from Ironton in Iron County. On 21 south from Ironton there are signs for County Rd CC and the State park. The asphalt road winds upward through the high country, the trees get shorter and rocky glades more frequent until you come to a well-marked white gravel road as you enter the park. Once inside you pass the Mountain Overlook Area with a refreshing panoramic view of great portions of the St Francois Mountain Range. Just a little further higher up is the parking lot for the peak.

For an enjoyable afternoon with a significant destination that takes very little effort it can’t be beat.

Reaching the highest natural point in Missouri is just a little anticlimactic. Taum Sauk peak is not a single point so much as the highest point of a large gentle ridge. It does stand out greatly from the rest of the formation. The marker is in the middle of a quiet stand of trees and if it wasn’t there a non-surveyor couldn’t know they were at the highest point. A mountain is an elevated gound, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger than a hill, typically rising at least 1000 feet above the surrounding land. It is a true mountain, and just because it is so easy to get to does not mean the walk from the parking lot is not actually climbing a mountain!

Quick, get the duck lips going!!!!
The flowers and animals are everywhere.

If you are in shape for it, the Trail to Mina Sauk falls starts just past the peak, it is a rugged three mile trail and not really for a novice hiker. You have to really want to get to the falls to take on this journey. Kids can be fine nomally, but you may have to carry them out on the way back. But getting to the falls is well worth the digs.

Rebecca, an aspiring medical nurse takes Pyper's pulse at the halfway point. Yup, she's not gonna die—it's fine.

Ciapka, the 573 Magazine Motion Dog wets her wistle.

Cooling off in the spring above the waterfall.

For an enjoyable afternoon with a significant destination that takes very little effort it can’t be beat. The air seems a little clearer at the top of Missouri and the world a little calmer. There are other places within the State Parks with flowing creeks and remarkable scenery, and you should visit those as well when you feel up to the challenges of those terrains. Sometimes though, an easy afternoon with a scenic drive is what you really want. And when someone asks you what you did that day, you can tell them, “Oh, I climbed a mountain.”

More information for Taum Sauk and other Missouri state parks can be found at

Yup, it's just that cool.
The 573 Motion Dog is in on the action.

On top the waterfalls. A 200 foot drop for those not paying attention. You should be very careful above the falls.

I love hiking. I love being outdoors. I love kayaking. I’ve done a lot of trails like Elephant Rocks, Kentucky State Bridge but this one was really good it was like more off-road and I kind of like it off the trails better. The waterfall is really, really pretty. I love the scenery that you get when you’re up high in the air like on a mountain. I'll be back for sure.
Taum Sauk is very pretty. I’ve been to Elephant Rocks and a few other places around here and this is much prettier. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. The hike was very tough, but it was worth it. -Pyper

Great photos—no experience needed.
Time to hike out.
If you don't have hot dogs at the end, you are a super human.
Looks like they made it!
Our happy hikers snap on the crew.
Special thanks to producer AJ and Ciapka (the 573 Motion Dog)

pics by t. smugala - da editor

Get the heck Out There! There's no time to waste.

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