Interesting Places

MDC works with partners to open multi-use trails at Gist Ranch CA

The multi-use trails will welcome horseback riders, bicyclists and hikers.

SUMMERSVILLE, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Back County Horsemen of Missouri (BCHMO), and the Summersville Saddle Club announce the opening of nearly 12 miles of multi-use trails located on the Gist Ranch Conservation Area (CA).  This CA is located in Texas County just northwest of Summersville off Highway 17.

Travis Mills, Resource Forester with MDC, and his work team, as time allowed, spent the past year enhancing an existing trail network as multi use trails. 

“We are happy to provide this recreational opportunity to a wide group of the public including horseback riders, bicyclists, and hikers,” Mills said.

MDC welcomes volunteer help to maintain the trails, which will allow MDC employees to accomplish other work. Therefore, a partnership has developed between the Summersville Saddle Club and the MDC.  Ronnie Harper, president of the Saddle Club, says the club is looking forward to “a lasting relationship with MDC” and that they will appreciate the opportunity to have trails close to home.

“I’m pleased to see these multi-use trails developed, and to have played a part with getting these organizations together to create a long-term partnership,” said John Turner a representative of BCHMO.

More information about Gist Ranch CA can be found at mdc.mo.gov

The Roger Pryor Trail

The Roger Pryor Trail through Pioneer Backcountry

One of the Newest Equestrian Trails

The Roger Pryor Trail through the Pioneer Backcountry (which is a 64,000 acre parcel of the Pioneer Forest) is part of the 500 mile Ozark Trail System. This trail, about 16 miles long, was built and is maintained by Back Country Horsemen of Missouri. Funding was provided through a grant provided by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP).

As the Ozark Trail enters the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry from the north, it divides into sections. The trial to the right is restricted for hikers only; the trail to the left is for equestrians. There is a small trail head at this location with a clearly marked sign indicating which trail to take. At the south end of the trail is the Powder Mill Equestrian Trailhead, which is large enough to handle many trailers in the large, circle drive parking area. This trailhead is special because it is located on Missouri Department Conservation land. It was with their cooperation that the trailhead was created, and a 1½ mile connector trail to the Roger Pryor Trail was built, as part of the RTP Grant. A signboard is located at this trailhead also.

What is unique about this trail is that because of the selected tree harvesting management plan used by the Pioneer Forest, the trail has a completely tree lined canopy cover. Those of us in the Eastern, River Springs, and South Central Chapters are lucky to have this trail within a two hour drive. It is suggested that if you’re riding this trail for the first time, the south trailhead should be used.

(As of 08/17/16 this trail is currently impassable approximately two miles from the circular equestrian trailhead parking area at the southern end due to trees down from a logging operation.)

(Update as of 7/27/17:  Although BCHMO has cleared approximately 2/3 of the section mentioned above, the trail continues to be impassable.  BCHMO hopes to complete the clearing of this section in the fall.  This notice will be deleted when trail is cleared.)

Driving Instructions from Eminence

From the intersection of Highway 19 and Highway 106 on the north side of Eminence, proceed east on Highway 106 about 14-16 miles to the grave road turn-off on your left. The landmark is the bridge that crosses the Current River. Proceed about 2 more miles. When you come to the third curve, about a third of the way through the curve, there is a gravel road to the left. Turn left. If you go too far, you will see a sign on the right that reads Blue Spring. Okay, you are almost there. After you have turned onto the gravel road, proceed about a mile, maybe a little further, to a large gravel circle drive on your left. That is the trailhead.

Driving Instructions from Ellington

From the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway 106, proceed west on Highway 106 about 10-12 miles. You will see a sign on your left that reads Blue Spring. Just past that sign is a gravel road on your right. Turn right. If you go too far, you will come to the bridge that crosses the Current River. After turning right, proceed about a mile, maybe a little further, to a large gravel circle drive on your left. That is the trailhead.

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Glade Top Trail System

Where to Start and Where to End

South central Missouri is blessed with so many places to trail ride that it is impossible to choose just one to write about.  The Mountain Riders Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Missouri care for three areas within the Ava District of the Mark Twain National Forest.  They are Corbitt Potter, the Bateman Ranch, and the Wille Lee Homestead, and are all part of the famous Glade Top Trail system which is a designated a National Scenic Byway.  The Glade Top Trail is one of the very few scenic highways that is not paved, allowing for both road riding and trail riding. The Glade Top Byway winds its way through thousands and thousands of acres of National Forest as it follows along the ridges of the Ozark Mountains. 

The Glade Top Trail is a trail rider’s delight.  There are without exaggeration, hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails that weave their way through the fifty thousand plus acres that surround the Glade Top Trail.  The trails cross glades, winds through deep hardwood forests, crosses small creeks, and climbs steep hills.  The riding is challenging, and a shod horse is recommended, but the trails and views are breath taking. The Glade Top offers many areas to primitive camp.  For riders that want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the more populated trail riding areas, the Glade Top is calling you. The trails are not over used, and as a matter of fact, you will more than likely not see another rider as you ride these beautiful hills.

The Glade Top Trail can be accessed from a number of different routes depending on what trailhead one wants to ride. Direction for all of these trailheads can found on the Douglas County Fox Trotter web-site douglascountyfoxtrotters.com. Look under the trail riding section and click on the ride you want and the directions will appear. For further information call Steve Assenmacher at (417) 796-2912

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