Note: This is a horse and hiking trail.
Location: Just north of Highway N within Johnson Shut-ins State Park. Going west from Highway 21 on Highway N, pass the entrance to Johnson Shut-ins State Park (on the left or south side of the road) and continue for several hundred feet to Highway MM which takes off to the north or right side of the road. Go north on Highway MM for approximately 1-mile. A sign for the trailhead is at the entrance to the west or left side of Highway MM.
Distance: A 10 mile trail, with 3-1/2 miles of the trail following the ridge line of Goggins Mountain.
Trail Report14Nov03 - I hiked the trail with 2 others on this date. We started 8:30AM, as sleet fell on our shoulders, and finished up about 12:15PM in a light drizzle. We followed the trail clock-wise as that is how the mileage is noted on the map. The trail starts out through bottom land from the parking lot and heads west. At the fork in the trail, 6/10ths from the parking lot, you start through a cedar grove with rather large cedar trees and a few pines mixed in until about mile 1.3 where the trail starts ascending through the hardwoods up to the Googins Mountain Ridge. The trail is marked very well for the most part with yellow plastic squares on the trees and is marked so that you can hike it either direction. At mile 2.4 you are nearly on the ridge top and the trail makes an abrupt right turn and heads due north following the ridge top. At this point the Ozark Trail is just about 1/10th of a mile due west from this trail but on the west side of Goggins Mountain. From the parking lot the trail is an old dirt road bed, except for a very short section, all the way to the 5.8-mile point at the very northeast end of Goggins Mountain. Here the trail makes a 180 degree switchback and turns back to the southwest for over 2 plus miles of trail that is off the old roadway and very rocky but pretty well follows along a contour. The trail across the ridge top of Goggins Mountain is through the hardwoods and is very easy hiking on the old road bed. With the leaves on the ground for the most part we were able to get a glimpse of the mountains to the west and could see Bell Mtn very well to the northwest through the trees although there was never a totally open vista. Near the 8-mile point we finally had a couple of open vistas in some small glades looking to the east. With the mist and clouds in the air it was beautiful as steam was rising and the ridgelines were very prominent with the yellow maples leaves mixed in with the everygreens on the hillsides. The Taum Sauk Reservoir was directly in our line of sight and was on the horizon. We also caught glimpses of the private lake in the valley below this area and could see a few cabins on the hillsides as well. From here it was pretty well all hardwoods as we trekked on back in the light drizzle as the trail followed a ridge line all the way back to the trail junction. We caught site of the parking lot through the trees about a mile before we arrived there. It was a great day for a hike despite the weather and we saw no other hikers during the day.
Distance: A 10-mile Loop with a doubling back over the first .6 miles.
Water: N/A - at least I didn't see anything available on Goggins. There is a pond near the 2.4 mile point on top of Goggins Mtn but it is a wildlife pond that the wild pigs like to use and I wouldn't recommend using water from there.
Parking: Overnight parking is available at the trailhead.
Comments: This trail comes within 1/10th of a mile of the Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail around the 2.4-mile mark as noted on the official trail map. This is a good option to get to the top of Goggins Mountain quicker or as an emergency route off the trail. Since most of the this trail is on old road bed it is nice and wide and would be a good trail in the summer time as you don't have to walk through the weeds and there would be a good canopy to walk under for 95% of the trail.
Maps: USGS 7-1/2' topo maps: Johnson Shut-ins and Edgehill, MO. Free Maps of the trail are available at the Johnson Shut-ins State Park Visitor center on a rack in the breezeway. I didn't see any maps available at the trailhead. You can also view the offical map at this URL (pdf format): Goggins Mountain Trail Map.
Cautions/Info: Copperheads in the summertime - beware !