Note: Portions of this trail are for horse and hiking. This is the park website - Sam A. Baker State Park. This official site offers lots of additional information and a sketch map of all of the trails.
Location: The park is located along Hwy 143, about 8 miles north of State Route 34, in Wayne County, Missouri. The main trail head is on the west side of Route 34 across the road from the Park Dining Lodge. There is parking on both sides of the road.
Distance: 12 to 15 miles depending on which trails you decide to use.
Trail Report21Feb05 - It was a long day yesterday but a great hike! I think all that did show up for the hike with Robert and myself - Roger, Gwen & Dave, Scott, Doug, Jeff, and Chris. We managed to miss the rain although it had rained at Sam A. Baker SP over night and all of the streams were flowing and babbling very well! The sun was trying to pop out as we met at the trailhead but quickly went away until after lunch and so the sun finished the trail with us. The temperature was good for hiking though! We following the 'yellow' trail signs most of the time. Hiking counter clockwise, we headed up the yellow trail toward the rock hiking shelters on the north end of Mudlick Mountain that look out over the Big Creek Valley. We passed several rocky areas on the ascent where the water was flowing nicely as it cascaded down the side of the mountain. The first hiking shelter is right at the edge of a high bluff and has a fantastic vista looking up and down the valley. At the other shelters you can see through the trees and see the large valley out to the north but these views will disappear when the leaves arrive later in the spring.
From the last hiking shelter we descending to a point where Mudlick Creek meets up with Big Creek. From here the trail goes up Mudlick Hollow. This was the 'jewel' for the day as the hollow is very narrow and very rocky but offered some great pictures of small waterfalls, cascades and pools as the water was flowing through very nice. The trail did cross the creek at several places but nothing that couldn't be negotiated with the help of the rocks and trees.
As we ascended through Mudlick Hollow the hollow widened out and we exited the hollow with a gently ascent of Green Mountain which borders the western side of the park. Green Mountain has several high points but really didn't have any open areas for vistas. We stopped at a wildlife pond in one of the saddles along the ridge top for lunch. The trail goes due south along the ridge top for several miles before switch backing down to Logan Creek. Logan Creek was also flowing nicely. There is a backcountry campground just south of the trail where it crosses Logan Creek. From here we began our ascent of Mudlick Mountain once again at the south end of the Mountain. The climb up to the ridge line was extremely rocky and hard on the feet. After reaching the ridge line on Mudlick Mountain the yellow trail split with one trail following the ridge line to the north for the most part and one trail descending along the east side of the mountain towards the parking/lot trailhead where we had started from. Two hikers took the low road back toward the parking lot while the remainder of us headed north towards the firetower on the high point of Mudlick Mountain. After reaching the fire tower, following a short bushwach straight up the mountain for a shortcut, we descended again on the yellow trail back to the hiking shelters where we doubled back on the trail between the hiking shelters and hit the 'blue' trail at the first hiking shelter. The blue trail (shut-ins trail) has a steep and slippery descent (when damp) into a beautiful hollow where the water was also flowing. The trail took us down to the floodplain along Big Creek then followed the base of the bluffs back to the parking lot. (The map shows a shut-ins in Big Creek but we didn't attempt to find it as it was getting dark and everyone was pretty well worn out by this time). We passed the base of the rocky areas where the water flows descend to the creek bottom from the areas that we had seen on our first ascent heading to the hiking shelters.
Anyway - it was a great day for hiking and a very nice trail despite the numerous fallen trees along the trail and the very rocky portions in places. We ended up with around 15 miles by the route we took and 13 miles for the two hikers that took the low trail back to the parking lot. I would recommend visiting Mudlick Hollow anytime after a nice rain. You can always do a loop in there and out as there is a 'horse' by pass trail that you can loop back on. This trail would also be a good preparation for scouts heading to Philmont.
Notes from the Official State Park website: "The trail begins by ascending the bluffs above Big Creek where three stone hiking shelters, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, offer outstanding views of the surrounding countryside and the “shut-ins” valley below. The trail then drops into Mudlick Hollow, a narrow rock-strewn valley interspersed with pools of clear water. The trail follows Mudlick Hollow for about three-fourths of a mile before beginning a gradual climb to the summit of Green Mountain. Horses may bypass the rocky Mudlick Hollow on the “horse friendly” Hollow Pass Trail. Hikers may use the Hollow Pass Trail as a return route after visiting the scenic hollow. The view from Green Mountain is best during the fall and winter when the trees in the thick oak-hickory forest have shed their leaves. From the southern end of Green Mountain, the trail descends rapidly, via a series of “switchbacks,” into Logan Creek valley. A dense stand of red cedar grows in the valley, providing a cool shaded corridor for the trail. Once through the valley, the trail begins a steady climb to the top of Mudlick Mountain. It then traverses the rugged eastern slope of the mountain back to the starting point."
Water: There was plenty of water as we hiked the trail on President's Day in February but I'm not sure how the water supply would be in early summer or early fall. I assume that most of the streams are dry over the summer but there may be some springs flowing although there were not springs shown on the map but we did see several but they could just be wet weather springs as it had rained the night before our hike.
Parking: Overnight parking is available at the trailhead.
Comments: The Jewel of this trail was Mudlick Hollow with all of the waterfalls, cascades and pools. This is only about 3/4 mile of the trail but well worth the trip. The view from the eastern hiking shelter up and down Big Creek was also very spectacular.
Maps: USGS 7-1/2' topo map: Brunot, MO. Free Maps of the trail are available at the trailhead check-in box but the box was empty on the day we hiked the trail. I would recommend obtaining the park map before you hike the trail as it has all of the trails overlaid on topo plus some additional notes. You can call the park office and have them mail you one in advance. The park map also shows the established campgrounds for backpacking use.
Cautions/Info: This area is probably very dry and hot in the summer and cautions would be for poisonous snakes and ticks considering the rocky landscape and heavy forest cover!