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Trace Creek (South)

Average Rating:    (4 of 5)

No. of Reviews: 1

The South Trace Creek section of the Ozark Trail is 13 miles (point to point) of challenging singletrack which will reward the experienced rider with great downhills, solitude, dense forest, and an excellent view just north of the Bell Mountain trailhead. Several creek creek crossings, steep switchbacks, and only one viable bail-out (after about 5 miles, where the trail crosses Hwy 32), make this a more serious endeavor than North Trace Creek. There is a pretty glade towards the southern end of this trail. Heading south, you get 7 big descents and 6 big climbs. Most importantly, you get to enjoy the BIG hill at the southern end as a climactic drop towards Ottery Creek. (You'll dig the narrow section past the granite boulders.) The trail runs along old logging roads in a few spots, and you'll have to watch for white diamonds and the funky, interlocked "OT" marker of the Ozark Trail. However, as part of the OT, this trail sees fairly regular maintenance. Coello and Henry's "Mountain Biker's Guide to the Ozarks" describes a 16 mile road-return.
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Trail Directions
Northern access (recommended) is via a spur off of the Council Bluff's Lake trail, or as a continuation of the North Trace Creek section. See those posts for more detail. Southern access is at the Bell Mountain Wilderness trailhead on Hwy A. To get there from Council Bluffs Lake, go south from CBL on Hwy DD for about 2.2 miles to its intersection with HWY 32. From the DD/32 intersection, go east on 32 for about 7.3 miles 'til you hit its intersection with Hwy A. From the 32/A intersection, go south on A for about 5.5 miles to the Bell Mountain trailhead -- there'll be a small parking lot right next to Hwy A, on the north (righthand side, w/ these directions). The Bell Mountain parking lot is about 3.1 miles north of the Hwy A/Hwy 49 intersection. I strongly recommend getting, studying, and taking, a copy of the free topo map for "The Ozark Trail, Trace Creek Section" from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources by calling the main number, (573) 751-2479, and asking for the Ozark Trail Coordinator.
Trail Length
13 miles
Trail Level
Trail Type

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Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)

Review Date
August 21, 2000

Overall Rating
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Once a year

Visitors rate this review
5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: Barry , from Columbia

Although about the same length as North Trace Creek, South Trace Creek is definitely a more serious challenge. It has several creek crossings, steeper climbs, and only one viable bail-out. If you ride it from north to south, you'll have one fewer climb and you'll get to enjoy the big drop down to Ottery Creek (rather than hike up it) just before the southern trailhead on Hwy A. The first mile or so is a nice level spin along the Telleck Branch. After a couple of steep climbs, you'll get to the only bail-out where the trail crosses Hwy 32 (~5 miles?). You can get back to Council Bluff Lake by riding a few miles west (right) to the three-way, 32/DD intersection, then going back north for a couple of miles. All of the descents were great -- especially the ones just south of 32, and at Ottery Creek -- but beware of downed trees waiting to sucker punch the unwary! The map showed the general location of two caves in Peter Cave Hollow, a few miles before the southern end. However, I haven't been able to find them and I've never found anyone else who has, either. (If you do, please describe their location in your review.) In a couple of areas, the trail follows old logging roads for a short distance. I was able to get back on the singletrack fairly easily by going slowly and looking for the white diamonds and "OT" markers. Most of the trail is in forest, but I do remember an open glade in the second half of the ride with some green lizards hanging out on the exposed rock. The last big descent drops about 300 feet in just over a half mile, and is a fantastic end to a challenging ride. There is even a moderately sketchy section past some granite boulders. At the bottom of this hill, you'll cross the permanently-running Ottery Creek just before the southern trailhead. (If it's been raining hard, this crossing could be dangerous.) Although you can do a road-return, I'd suggest arranging for a ride at the southern trailhead. If you're still feeling spunky, lock your bike, cross Hwy A, and hike to the top of Bell Mountain and back (beautiful views). Definitely get a copy of the topo map, "The Ozark Trail, Trace Creek Section" by calling the Missouri Dep't of Natural Resources in Jefferson City and asking to speak with the Ozark Trail Coordinator. This map also covers North Trace Creek. Also, a detailed map of the Potosi-Fredericktown District of the Mark Twain Nat'l Forest, is available for a few $$ from the Forest Service's office in Potosi.

Recommended Route:
North to South

Other recommended trails in the same area:
North Trace Creek, Council Bluff Lake, Berryman, other OT sections.

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Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)