OZARK HIGHLANDS TRAIL SECTION FIVE

Sign on the trail.

Connecting my steps on Section Five of the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Day 1 – Fort Douglas To Cedar Creek

The hike started from the trail-head at Fort Douglas in the early evening. It rained heavily that morning, which made for a very wet humid start to the hike. The humid conditions lasted all weekend. The plus of the rain was the trail passes numerous waterfalls.

Sunset - Ozark Highlands Trail
God’s Handiwork!

A little over a mile in, is Haw Creek Falls. These beautiful falls are in a State Recreation Area with nice camping sites. Planning this hike, I had concerns about crossing Haw Creek. Nowhere did it mention it was a low water bridge…

Haw Creek Falls - Ozark Highlands Trail
Haw Creek Falls

Because of a late start, dusk set in quickly on the trail. I love hiking at twilight because the forest is so peaceful.

Waterfall - Ozark Highlands Trail
Evening Is The Best

Dusk gave way to dark and I hiked by headlamp for the next three hours because I could not find a flat spot to pitch my tent. Note to self, use fresh batteries every time! It is hard to find and change batteries in the dark.

Night Hiking!

DAY 2 – Cedar Creek to Mile Marker 91

When I reached the designated camping area at 11:00 there were already people camping there. They graciously shared a parcel of real estate to sleep on.

The next morning over coffee I met this great couple from Texas. This was my first-time camping with someone I did not start the hike with.

The day started with a river crossing; I had wet feet the entire hike!

Because of COVID 19 and the summer heat, there had been little if any trail maintenance. The further I hiked from the day use area, the rougher and more overgrown the trail became.

Rough Trail – No Sweat!

In the middle of nowhere there was a trail register. I signed it and noticed the last entry was two weeks ago.

About noon I reached the 91-mile marker. A friend and I had hiked Section Five from the Ozone trail-head earlier in the year ending our trip at this marker. I was happy to connect my steps for this section of trail.

91 Mile Marker - Ozark Highlands Trail
91 Mile Marker – Steps Connected

Since this is a Yo-Yo hike, the only thing left to do was hike back. I returned the seven miles to the spot I camped the night before. I had the entire site to myself. Honestly, I missed the companionship of the couple from Texas.

Tent on Ozark Highlands Trail
My home in the woods!

Day 3 – Ozark Highlands Trail

Day three started early Sunday morning. I cooked breakfast by headlamp, packed up, and was hiking before 8:00.

I was greeted with a long uphill climb out of camp. It is always uphill both ways in the Ozarks!

I wanted to push to see how an Old Guy Walking could do knocking out the seven miles between me and the truck. I made it in a little under three hours!

Just Follow The White Blazes!

After crossing Gee Creek, the trail followed a bench trail with some precarious footing. The trail was narrow and dropped off the side, that combined with wet ground made for an interesting mile and some great dance moves!

Next up was Haw Creek and one last look at the falls. The river level had gone down overnight, and people were swimming in the falls.

Swimmers In Haw Creek

The last mile made me earn it! I missed a turn and unknowingly was following a game trail (I was rushing). Fortunately, I dumped out on to HWY 123 just north of the trail head.

To say the least, the Ozark Highlands Trail can be interesting. I stopped counting chigger bites at 300…

If you enjoyed the blog or have questions about the OHT leave a comment below.

Things You Can Learn While Floating Under A Tarp

It would be an understatement to say that every backpacking trip is a learning experience. My recent adventure on the Ozark Highlands Trail is no exception to the rule.

For some time now thanks to Jupiter, I have been enamored with tarp camping. My first love is cowboy camping (throwing your bag on the ground and sleeping under the stars). But when weather or privacy demands some degree of shelter, a tarp is my first choice.

One of my goals on our last hike was to perfect my tarp camping skills over a multiple day hike. The first night out was a dream come true. With a 1% chance of rain I was snuggled in my sleeping bag under a perfect A-Frame pitch. I watched the moon rise as I was lulled to sleep by the creek flowing a few yards away – a total win!


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