The North Trace Creek section of the Ozark Trail is 13+ miles (point to point) of some of the best singletrack in Missouri. The location is secluded, the forest and ferns are beautiful, the surface is fast, the uphills are mild and the downhills are wild.
Hazel Creek may be deep and there will be a few more, minor, crossings. The trail is well-marked with white diamonds and the green-on-white, interlocked-"OT", marker. Heading south, there are 6 long climbs (only 5 going north). There are bail-out roads at 4.5 mi.(Hwy C), 5.9 mi. (gravel CR646), and 12.5mi (Hwy DD). You can make it a loop on ~13 miles of gravel and paved roads.
I strongly recommend getting a free copy of the "Ozark Trail, Trace Creek Section" topo-map by calling the Missouri Dep't of Natural Resources' at (573) 751-2479 and asking for the Ozark Trail Coordinator. It also covers the South Trace Section of the OT.
Northern access is at the Hazel Creek campground. Southern acces is at the Council Bluff Lake Rec. Area.
From Potosi, head southwest on Hwy P 'til you hit Hwy C. Head west on Hwy C past a little gas-n-grocery at the C/DD junction. From the C/DD intersection, you'll go about 4 miles on C and turn right on the paved County Road Z. On CR Z, you'll head up a steep hill, then continue for about 3 miles (the pavement runs out after about 2mi., check your speed!), past a neat little cemetery to the Hazel Creek campground. The trail heads southeast out of the campground through an old stand of pines.
If you opt to ride it from south to north (1 fewer climb), check out my post for Council Bluff Lake.
Summary: Just a brief note to let old timers know that this is a very doable trail. Neither my 49 year old wife nor I (50 year old) are 'shredders' or 'smokers' on the trail; we are in decent aerobic shape. This trail is scenic, varied, and interesting. There were a couple of places where we just bagged it and walked up the hill a little bit, but those occasions were not numerous nor extensive.
You can do this route.
I tried the Marble Creek stretch a few years ago and couldn't go far at all.
Summary: very well layed out trail in the ozark trail system. Sweeeet uphill climbs, nothing overwhelming, then long decents. Trail is well marked, as compared in the area. No water and nothing even close to being around, so bring everything.
Recommended Route: We started at council bluff and rode to the trace creek trail, then to hazel campground, then back, made for an all dayer!! Singlespeed 32:16 was perfect, coulda used more than the 100 oz fluids we had though, so take that as a guide if your gonna ride.
Other recommended trails in the same area: berryman! Honey-run at lake of the ozarks!!! do it!!
Review Date October 31, 2001
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: dave
, from lyons, co
Summary: I know it's sacriligious to say this about MO biking, but this trail is hands down, better than the Berryman trail. A great ride, no doubt. Lots of variety and good views. This trail had single and double track, long climbs and solid downhills. None of it was very technical, just fast and smooth. The downhills are long and fast in the middle. Towards CB Lake, they are shorter and switchbacked. On this ride you've got creek crossings, flat wide open sections, twisty tree sections, and smoking downhills. A must do if you're in the area. I'd do it before I hit Berryman if I'm in the area again. One headsup, though. We rode it in Fall foliage, so the trail was difficult to discern due to all of the leaves on the ground. As a result, when we were in doubletrack, we missed the singletrack turnoff a few times and had to backtrack.
Recommended Route: due to daylight constraints, we shuttled from Hazel Creek to CB Lake.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Berryman is OK, CB Lake is really good but short.
Review Date May 1, 2001
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: Michael
, from St. Louis
Summary: Very rocky area...not in the way that it makes it very technical of a ride, but definitely nice and rugged. The MANY fun creek crossings combined with the sometimes gravely/sandy banks make a once over with oil, etc. on your bike a good idea after a weekend riding in this area. Very fun and doable trail topography. Never any monster climbs or downhills, but many of a more gradual nature that can make decent heart-pumping climbs rewarded by fun stretches of downhill that can be as challenging as you make it with speed. Some rocky decents can make tire traction a bit sketchy so try to glance a bit further ahead for the many turns these downhills offer to keep your speed in check. I loved this trail and the land that surrounds it. There are so many jeep roads and fire roads to explore around the area (especially near Hazel Creek Campground) that make this land a true treasure.
Recommended Route: I started at Hazel Creek (Note: once you're in the campsite you've passed the trail entrance...look for the start of the trail with the interlocked OT symbol at the mouth of the road that leads you in the campground just as it hits the camping area). We rode to Council Bluffs Lake and this looked like it might be an even better starting area. If you start at Hazel Creek, at mile 13-14ish you'll hit paved highway DD. You can get to Council Bluffs Lake and it's trail by either following the trail across where it picks up across the road and stay on it for about 2 miles or you can take a left on DD for an easy hwy ride to the lake. Lake turn off will be on your right.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Take time to explore some of the many jeep roads in the area which will lead you through some beautiful land and very different terrain compared to typical St. Louis or even Berryman-ish riding.