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HIKING IN THE ARCADIA VALLEY
By Bob Soetebier
If you’ve have never seen the “Elephant Rocks”, then make a beeline on Hwy. 21 to Graniteville,
about 90 miles south of St. Louis for an easy 1-mile, paved loop-trail hike at Elephant Rocks S.P.
Right off the parking lot, at the dog-leg trailhead, you’ll find a gazebo-like kiosk
with very informative historic info about the rocks and the adjacent granite quarry.
( http://www.mostateparks.com/elephantrock/photos.htm )
Just a few miles farther south on Hwy. 21 brings you to Pilot Knob, MO.
Turn left on Hwy. V, and less than a half-block on your right
-- directly across the road from the Ft. Davidson Motel --
is Ft. Davidson State Historic site; just below Pilot Knob in the Arcadia Valley.
It’s a must stop for a visit to learn about the historic Civil War battle that took place there.
In addition to watch the in-the-round animated battle diorama,
be sure to catch the audio-visual slide show,
Plan to spend at least about an hour here so you can also walk around what’s left of the fort.
( http://www.missouri.edu/~agw526/photos/SEMO2004/index2.html )
As noted on the Pilot Knob, Missouri, Fort Davidson historic marker:
“Surrounded by the rugged splendor of the highest peaks of the Missouri Ozarks,
Arcadia Valley lies in the geologic center of the Ozarks, one of the world’s oldest mountain regions.”
Just another mile or so on south on Hwy. 21 is the old Ironton Railroad Depot
which has been turned into a Visitors Center and museum.
Be sure to allow at least another half hour for perusal here, too.
While in the vicinity, if you’re up for a bit more rigorous hiking,
then head farther south on Hwy. 21 to Taum Sauk Mtn. S.P.
Be sure to climb to the top of the fire tower while there for a great 360-panoramic view,
including the distant Taum Sauk Reservoir atop Proffit Mtn.
After climbing down from the fire tower, drive the final, unpaved/gravel portion of the road
to the Mina Sauk trailhead parking lot.
Be forewarned, though: it’s a fairly rugged
With a 132-foot drop, Mina Sauk
is the highest falls in elevation in MO.
( http://image24.webshots.com/24/9/98/33/37199833mBPCXV_ph.jpg )
If that’s more than you have time for,
then at least walk the initial, short paved portion of the Mina Sauk trail from the gravel parking lot
to the highest point in Missouri; which is now officially sited at 1772 feet.
Back in the mid 1970s, we used a 7 & ˝-minute topographic map
and located the original geodetic marker
that had been set in stone at another location atop Taum Sauk Mtn.
noted a slightly different elevation of either 1776 feet or 1779 feet.
BUT, what was even more intriguing was that the embedded round brass marker had the surveyor’s name on it:
“Lt. Robert E. Lee”
We’ve never been able to relocate that marker and suspect that it has since been removed to a safe location for archival storage.
Of course, no trip to this area would be complete without a stop at nearby Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.
After the devastating catastrophe that befell the park --
when the Taum Sauk Reservoir, just above the park atop Proffit Mtn.,
failed and dumped millions of gallons of what down upon it,
the park is now back in shape and open for visitors with a an excellent new visitors center.
Don’t miss it, and of course, a walk down to
the Shut Ins for a swim, too!
( http://mostateparks.com/jshutins.htm )
For even better Missouri Ozarks’ geology pics, be sure to check out the following URLs, too:
[NOTE: Underlined items in trip account link to additional related info about the points of interest.]