The 7,019-acre Paddy Creek Wilderness, designated in 1983, is characterized by classic Ozark hardwood and pine forests, moderately dissected hills, and narrow, steep-sloped valleys. This relatively easy overnight loop takes a counter-clockwise approach to the hilly trail, but climbs and descents are followed by fairly level stretches in valleys and on ridgelines.
From the Paddy Creek Recreation Area Trailhead, you’ll cruise oak and short pine forests on the south side of the waterway, crossing creek tributaries and occasional park roads several times en route to an overlook and the Paddy Creek Campground near the loop’s half-way point. The second half of the route skirts the creek’s north side. Allow time to explore side trails into hidden box canyons and springs, that are also common in the area’s karst topography.
This area is best explored in spring and fall when temperatures are moderate and sparse foliage offers plentiful views. And, though the route skirts an established campground near its half-way point, primitive camping is allowed everywhere in the wilderness area except in day use areas, administrative sites, within 100 feet of springs, stream, caves, and other natural features or archeological sites. Also, be diligent about finding and removing ticks, which are common especially in summer.
-Mapped by Charlie Williams