Special Note: The Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail remains closed between Profit Mtn and on through Johnson Shut-ins State Park due to the washout that occurred as a result of the failure of the Ameren-UE reservoir in December of 2005. Hikers in this area should plan on following the old Boy Scout Trail down to Hwy N then hiking west on Hwy N to Hwy MM on the north side of Hwy N. Follow Hwy MM to the Goggins Mountain Trailhead. By hiking the Goggins Mountain Trail clockwise you can use a cutover trail around the 2.4 mile point, as showon the Goggins Mountain Trail Map and catch the Ozark Trail on the west side of Goggins Mountain just a few tenths of a mile down the west side. It is not know when the Ozark Trail will be rebuilt within the Johnson Shut-ins Park corridor.
Location: Between Pilot Knob, MO (starting at Fort Davidson) and Johnson Shut-ins State Park.
Distance: Taum Sauk Trail is 20-miles oneway - Mina-Sauk Falls Trail is a 3-mile loop from the new trailhead within Taum Sauk State Park. There is also a 1000-foot handicap accesible walkway to the 'High Point' on Taum Sauk Mountain.
Water: Water may or may not be available along the trail depending on the weather conditions. No water is available on the first 1/2 of the trail coming from Pilot Knob to Taum Sauk Mountain until you reach Taum Sauk State Park. You can usually find water in the Mina-Sauk Falls area on the second 1/2 of the trail but be sure and treat or filter it. There is absolutely no water available during the first 10 miles of the trail.
Parking: Overnight parking is available on Taum Sauk Mountain at the Fire Tower, Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, or at Johnson Shut-ins State Park.
Comments: The Taum Sauk trail is sponsored and maintained by the Greater St. Louis Area Council (GSLAC), BSA (1-800-392-0895, ask for Camping). You can obtain reservations and maps from the GSLAC Office. The first half of the trail begins at Ft. Davidson in Pilot Knob, Missouri and includes hiking on several roads as it winds to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri at 1,772 feet. The trail crosses over Shephard and Russell Mountains in this section. However, the nicest section of the trail is the second 1/2 which starts on Taum Sauk Mountain and ends at Johnson Shut-ins. This portion of the trail passes by Missouri's highest water fall, Mina Sauk Falls, which falls 132 ft. in three cascades. It can get to a trickle in dry weather and is best observed after a nice rain. The Ozark Trail also combines with the Taum Sauk Trail on Taum Sauk Mountain and follows the same route to about a mile west of the Devil's Toll Gate.
The Mina Sauk Falls Trail Loop is part of the Missouri State Park system.
The Ozark Trail forks from the Taum Sauk Trail about 1 mile west of the Devil's Toll Gate (a large gap in an igneous rock knob) and follows a higher route to and along Proffit Mountain before rejoining the Taum Sauk Trail near the Taum Sauk Reservoir (which, BTW, is on Proffit Mountain). By taking the Ozark Trail section you can add several miles to your hiking for the day. It is rugged but passes through some nice Ozark meadows on the south side of Proffit Mountain. The Taum Sauk Trail continues following Taum Sauk Creek for approximatley another 3 miles before the trail heads up to a saddle in Proffit Mountain, joins the Ozark Trail, and heads down the west slope into Johnson Shut-ins State Park.
Note - 21 March 98: The trail to Mina-Sauk Falls has been relocated. The new trail head now is located at the Taum Sauk State Park main parking lot. The trail is a 3-mile roundtrip loop. The southern portion of the loop shares the Ozark Trail, for the most part, as it returns to the main parking lot in Taum Sauk State Park. I am assuming that since the old jeep trail from the fire tower to Mina-Sauk Falls is closed that the Boy Scouts have also relocated their trail but I don't have a current trail map to verify as of this update.
Maps: Trail maps are available from the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America noted above or contact the Potosi Ranger Station (573-438-5427) for Ozark Trail Maps of the Taum Sauk Section. Ozark Trail Maps of this section and for the trail to Mina-Sauk Falls are available at the trailhead in Taum Sauk State Park. Quad sheets: Ironton and Johnson Shut-ins, MO, 7-1/2 minute USGS 1:24000 Quadrangles.
Cautions: Summertime ticks and heat, bring plenty of water. After a heavy rain portions of the trail from Taum Sauk Mountain to Johnson Shut-ins could be flooded or impassable along Taum Sauk Creek. Camping is available at Taum Sauk State Park and Johnson Shut-ins State Park. No wilderness camping is available except maybe along the section of the Ozark Trail - be sure to check camping regulations in this area. I would recommend at least hiking the section between Taum Sauk Mountain and Johnson Shut-ins State Park. This half of the trail can be dangerous though. I personally know of scout groups that would not take some advice and became trapped on one side of the creek due to high water and got lost in the dark trying to find a way out - HIGH WATER - STAY AWAY ! Mina Sauk Falls is a beautiful spot to visit when the water is flowing and it is only a 3-mile roundtrip from the State Park parking lot area.