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The Ozark Trail

The Ozark Trail in southern Missouri is one of the most wondrous places on Earth.

With nearly 400 miles of trails running through pristine forests, the Ozark Trail is something all Missourians should be proud to claim.  Mountains and valleys filled with springs, crystal-clear streams, waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife make it the crown jewel of the Midwest.

Recently, we posted on our Facebook pages that we were looking for a groovy couple to hike on the Ozark Trail.  Okay, we were overwhelmed by the response. Yes, friends, the readers of 573 Magazine are all groovy, and all love the outdoors.  Then the problem became, how on earth would we narrow it down and decide who to follow on the hike and what part of the 400 miles of trail would we hike?  I’m kinda ashamed to admit this, and I’m not sure if this is politically correct or not, but – I did an Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…  

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, My mother told me to pick the very best one, and you are IT.

According to Wikipedia, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” — which can be spelled a number of ways — is a children’s counting rhyme, used to select a person in games such as tag. It is one of a large group of similar rhymes in which the child who is pointed to by the chanter on the last syllable is either “chosen” or “counted out.” The rhyme has existed in various forms since well before 1820 and is common in many languages with similar-sounding nonsense syllables.

Our couple Christina and Chris decided they wanted to hike the Taum Salk park of the Ozark Trail to see the Waterfall.   Enjoy!  

  I, Cristina Hernandez, grew up in the 573 area.  I am 25 years old, the daughter of an immigrant from Honduras (my father). I’ve lived most of my life in Terre Du Lac, but have traveled to many different places.  I travel to the Dora (near west plains) area often to visit my stepfather and mother. My parents are living off the grid (for about a year now). Reporters are interviewing them about their lifestyle. I am considering joining them. They spent the year prior hiking the Ozark trail near Taum Sauk and have found massive, waterfall swimming holes. Now they are clearing land and starting a farm all off the grid.

  Many people don’t travel because they have children, but it motivates me to travel more. I want to show my 5-year-old daughter, Sophia, the natural art and beauty of life.  Sophia is diagnosed with Autism. She doesn’t enjoy playing with other children or pretend play, so hiking is very therapeutic for her. Sophia is a free spirit and enjoys wildlife very much. She’s a stop, smell, and pick all the flowers type of girl.  She is very intelligent and sweet. Plus, there’s always the health benefits of hiking. And, it’s free!!Christopher Jones (he goes by Chris) is my fiance. We have been together for over a year now, but it seems like much longer. He is a 2x leukemia survivor and is now in his third year of remission. He grew up in Paducah, Kentucky with his mother, but moved to Missouri for cancer treatment in St. Louis. We enjoyed the hike very much. It seemed to be the perfect day for it.  The leaves were so beautiful. We are definitely the get lost in nature type of people. So thank you for choosing us for such an outdoorsy article.


In October of 1976, representatives from various agencies met to discuss a proposal called the “Ozark Trail Concept.” It was billed as an informal discussion and quickly led to the 1st Ozark Trail draft in February of 1977. Four years later, the first sections of the new trail were under construction.  Unlike the National Scenic Trail System, no act of Congress authorized the Ozark Trail. No state agency was mandated to coordinate or complete the trail. No single entity managed the concept, design, or implementation. Instead, it was a cooperative effort of seven governmental agencies, one private landowner, and several environmental groups who banded together in what later became the Ozark Trail Council. Meeting bi-annually, this group established a series of connected trail segments over their respective land holdings that together made up the Ozark Trail. The Ozark Trail continues to grow. Since 1991, two major sections have been added: the Wappapello and North Fork, while three other sections were extended: Taum Sauk, Karkaghne, and Courtois. Following the founding of the Ozark Trail Association in 2002, the Middle Fork section was completed in November 2005, allowing at that time for 225 miles of thru-trail at the heart of the system. (This section was renamed as the Middle Fork-John Roth Memorial after the untimely death of OTA founder John Roth in 2009). Of the 50 miles of trail added by the OTA to date, most were constructed by volunteers. We continue to maintain and expand the Ozark Trail. Re-routes of existing segments due to erosion or other damage add mileage to the OT, and the addition of spur trails such as the eastern part of Berryman Trail and the Council Bluff Lake Trail have boosted our mileage recently. We’re closing in on 400 total miles with approximately 230 miles of thru-trail.  

Kathie Brennan (2016–2019)

I’ve never been one to say “No” and possess a heart for volunteering for worthy causes… so when a chance conversation with a friend about the Ozark Trail (OT) presented itself, I ended up at an Ozark Trail Association (OTA) construction outing on the Middle Fork in 2005.  I became hooked. When my girls were younger, we were involved with Girl Scouts, family camping trips, and floating the creeks and rivers to hiking the trails in the parks we camped in. Not a stranger to any work or task, I retired from Wal-Mart after 20 years and currently work as an Administrative Assistant for an Alternative school, work part-time retail sales with Bath & Body Works, and in the summer months, I am a seasonal naturalist for Trail of Tears State Park. Becoming involved with the OTA/OT has provided me opportunities to meet a very diverse group of volunteers from all over the state.  I haven’t hiked or been on all of the OT, but manage to be out on the trail as much as I can through maintenance and construction events which give me the opportunity to savor the diversity of the OT. I live in Cape Girardeau, MO with my husband, Calvin. Our two daughters Casey and Emily are also volunteers as well as boyfriend Marcus, husband Derek, and our 2 1/2 yr old grandson Stratton. As a family, we also have adopted a 3.1-mile section of the Middle Fork – John Roth Memorial section. The Ozark Trail is an ongoing project for future generations. I hope that the opportunities we give volunteers and their families will help us see the completion of the Ozark Trail as we all strive to carry out the mission of the OTA.


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