Shepherd Mountain Hiking Trail

New July 4th, 2013

If you want to go hiking or mountain biking among some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the United States, but feel you have to travel to Colorado or the Appalachian Trail to do so, you have not yet heard of the St. Francois Mountain Region of the Missouri Ozark Plateau. If you want to see and experience a landscape unique on the earth, make your plans to visit the Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area. Come to Missouri where hundreds of miles of trails await your exploration!

(The trail is in the areas of old iron mines and also the fighting between civil war Confederate General Marmaduke’s units and members of the 14th Iowa Infantry.
The area where the Confederates placed a cannon is also near the trail.)

The St. Francois Mountains were formed through volcanic and intrusive activity nearly 1.5 billion years ago. By comparison, the Appalachians started forming about 460 million years ago and the Rockies a mere 70 million years ago. When the Appalachian Mountains started forming, the St. Francois range was already twice as old as the Appalachians are today. This range is one of the oldest exposures of igneous rock in North America. Geologists believe that the volcanic activity that formed this mountain range is also thought to be the geological cause of the uplift of the entire Ozark Plateau. It is believed that the peaks of the St. Francois Mountains may be the only area in the American Midwest never to have been submerged in the Paleozoic seas. Around the peaks, in the areas that were submerged, fossilized coral and the remains of ancient reef complexes can be found. These resulted in rich ore deposits of iron, lead, barite, zinc, silver, manganese, cobalt, and nickel, as well as granite and limestone. Today, an old granite quarry lies on the edge of Elephant Rocks State Park which is a spectacular outcropping of huge weathered granite boulders that resemble Elephants, tail to tail. Taum Sauk Mountain is the highest peak in the range, and the highest point in the state. In short, a hike or bike ride along trails in our region can make you feel pretty insignificant in the Earth’s history. Don’t miss the spectacular trails as Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park, truly a wonder of Missouri!

Chief among our trails is the Ozark Trail which meanders through our richly beautiful region of the Ozarks. In the 1970s work began on a vision to build a scenic and varied route in the Missouri Ozarks, from just outside St. Louis southwest to the Arkansas border, to eventually connect with the Ozark Highlands Trail, creating a 700-mile through-trail. Governmental agencies, environmental groups and dedicated bands of volunteers have now completed over 350 miles of the Missouri section of the Ozark Trail. For more information and a detailed overview of the Ozark Trail in our Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area, please click here.

There are unlimited hiking and mountain biking opportunities in our region. See our many recreational opportunities and we think you will agree that this is the best place in Missouri to find hiking and biking trails. Mountain Biking is permitted on all, or portions of, Council Bluff Trail and most sections of the Ozark Trail.