County: Madison County, Missouri
Nearest City: Arcadia
Trailhead: 37.4575, -90.4991
Distance from downtown STL: 1 hour 45 minutes / 103 miles
Trail Length: 0 miles (bushwhack)
Trail Format: Out and back
Land Management: Mark Twain National Forest
Camping: Primitive dispersed camping
Shut-ins Location: 37.4574, -90.4967
Watershed: St. Francis River
Little Rock Creek Shut-in is a spectacular formation of lichen covered boulders, straight edge rhyolite chutes and turquoise plunge pools. At the southern base of Black Mountain, this shut-in’s proximity to the road should be ignored. Its considerable beauty, coupled with the sounds of falling water drown out even the loudest passerby.
Numerous cascades over large boulder formations plunge into deep blue pools before reaching a large continuous chute. This dark purple channel of solid rock spans at least 30 feet and runs over 50 yards. Perpendicular fractures in the rhyolite add picturesque turbulence as water flows in sheets down to a final, massive blue swimming hole.
Though visited with some recent rainfall, higher water would produce additional falls on secondary stream courses. As well as a stream width curtain about 3 feet tall below the largest pool. If you can cross safely, exploring from the northern canyon wall yields stunning views and shots that look like drone photography.
Just two miles down the road at Marble Creek Shut-in there is a primitive seasonal campground. USGS maps show an old road between Little Rock Creek Shut-in and Black Mountain Falls which could make for a unique 3 mile out and back. Other nearby attractions include Lower Rock Creek Shut-in, Crane Lake Shut-in and Mud Creek Shut-in.
To reach Little Rock Creek Shut-in take Highway E from Arcadia east for 14.9 miles on the odometer. There is space for a single vehicle to park on the north side of the road. If you cross the bridge over Little Rock Creek and reach the St. Francis River you have gone too far.