Located in an eastern drainage of Johnson Mountain this shut-in is undoubtedly named to avoid confusion with the renowned Johnson Shut-ins. In heavy rainfall this tumbling creek cascades over a boulder strewn path before entering a canyon-like ravine. Sheer granite walls rise on both sides of a narrow channel choked with the canopies of American Sycamores. Their white branches of papery bark contrasting with the black rock is truly magnificent.
Rockpile Mountain is the smallest of Missouri’s eight designated wilderness areas. With only two miles of maintained trail, exploring its 4,238 acres is entirely cross-country. Old road traces are still easy enough to follow along most of the ridge lines, though none are marked. The cairn-like stacked rocks of its namesake tend to draw the attention of most visitors.
The Vilander Bluff Natural Area is a 200-acre tract along the Meramec River near Bourbon Missouri. It’s managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as part of Onondaga Cave State Park. A 1.25 mile loop trail passes near the bluff, but DOES NOT provide views of the cliffs. At over 200 feet, Vilander Bluff is the Meramec River’s tallest. Ancient cedars over 400 years old grow out of the rocks.
The Myron & Sonya Glassberg conservation area is a 429-acre tract in the LaBarque Creek watershed with impressive views across the Meramec River valley. A three-mile hiking trail loops through the area following ridgelines up, around, and back down to the valley. To reach the top, the trail utilizes an old gravel road, which near its steepest turns to asphalt. Single track begins at the overlook junction as the trail loops higher still and back around to the start.
The Bell Mountain Trail is usually hiked in a 12 mile lollipop loop beginning at the Highway A trailhead of the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail...The trail is set just to the side of a massive glade with breathtaking views to the east. Little side trails criss cross this entire area of prime backcountry camping real estate. Explore all the sights & sites before setting up camp. Each spot seems prettier than the next.