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When I duck beneath boughs of blossoming dogwoods and emerge atop McCormack Bluff, I see everything that gives the Ozark Trail its reputation. A pocket of mist is lifting, revealing rows of tree-topped hills that stretch into the horizon. Directly below me, the Eleven Point River twists through the limestone cliffs, giving life to patches of yellow goldenrod and purple ironweed on the banks. It’s tough to leave a view like this, but the next is just around the corner.
Distance: 12.5 miles (point to point)
Time: 2 days
From the McCormack Lake trailhead
(1) Head 3.7 miles south on the Ozark Trail to MO 19.
(2) Follow the road .1 mile south.
(3) Continue 2 miles east on the Ozark Trail to camp. (Take the upper path for better views and drier boots.)
(4) Head 6.7 miles east to the trailhead on FS 3152.
Unnamed pine grove (mile 5.7)
Secure a rare flat spot: After passing the Greer car campground and Graveyard Hollow (top off water here), ascend a mile to the level terrain and select a social site. Wander south to glimpse the river 200 feet below.
The first week of May is prime time for the dogwoods (which bloom white) and redbuds (pink); see the best display from McCormack Bluff (mile 1.4). Also in bloom: yellow goldenrod and purple ironweed.
Between Greer Spring (pictured) and Turner Mill, the Eleven Point River is considered a Blue Ribbon Trout Area—meaning it has a naturally reproducing rainbow trout population. Fish for 18-inch keepers (they’re more common than you’d think) near Pigpen Hollow at mile 3.8.
DO IT Shuttle car 36.792515, -91.257763; 16 miles south of Fremont off FS 3152 Trailhead 36.823319, -91.350417; 10 miles northwest of the shuttle car off CR 3155 Season Year-round, but spring and fall are prettiest Permits None Custom mapbit.do/BPmapElevenPoint ($15) Contactbit.do/eleven-point-sectionTrip databackpacker.com/elevenpoint
- State: MO
- City: St. Louis, MO
- Distance: 12.5
- Contact: bit.do/eleven-point-section
- Land Type: National Forest