Ozark Trail – Eleven Point Section
Another version of this article was published in the Anniversary Issue of Our Ozarks Magazine, Saddle Up, March 2017
Lazy C Campground, Winona, MO
The Ozark mountain region of Missouri holds some of the most spectacular scenery in the state. The Ozark Trail has 300+ miles of varied terrain that can accommodate all types of equestrians.
The Ozark Trail is managed by a team of volunteers known as the Ozark Trail Association. The Ozark Trail covers a large area of south central Missouri. The Eleven Point Section of the Ozark trail travels along the Eleven Point National Scenic River that was established in 1968 as a 44-mile scenic river.
A four-day Thanksgiving trail riding trip took me to the Lazy C Campground 12 miles south of Winona, MO and 3 miles NW of the Eleven Point National Scenic River.
The Lazy C is a primitive campground that has a vault toilet and an artesian well. There are four sites with high lines and horse pens that are large enough for two horses, and two sites with high lines only.
The campground is secluded, yet very easy to access with a truck that has a horse trailer in tow. There is a large circle drive with easy flat access to each campsite.
Each site is equipped with a picnic table and a large campfire ring with a swing-out cooking grate. There is also a very nice group campfire ring with benches in case you would like to camp with a large group.
There is an artesian well, however there was no rope or bucket present and the water was a bit too murky looking for my preference. If one were to choose to use the well, a rope and bucket would be a necessity and if not, on board water would be required for your time in camp. Water was readily available on the trail while riding.
The trail head is accessed directly from camp and joins the Ozark Trail approximately 3 miles from the trail head. It is consistently marked with the green-on- white OT trail markers and also gray diamond trail markers.
On the way to the Ozark Trail, you can take the McCormack Lake spur for a short side ride to the lake where there are picnic tables, barbecue grills and a bathroom.
The Eleven Point section of the Ozark Trail rises from the Eleven Point River to 975 vertical feet above sea level.
To the west, you traverse the Mark Twain National Forest toward the Devils Backbone Wilderness, riding curving switchbacks through hardwood forests that take you ever higher, until you reach the summit where the view above the river is breathtaking.
To the east, the Ozark Trail travels above the river along a ridge top with a beautiful overlook that has a picnic table and is a wonderful spot for a break. The trail then winds down toward the river as it heads toward Greer Spring. At the confluence of the Greer Spring branch and the Eleven Point National Scenic River, the river almost doubles in size. The riding is steep and rocky, and due to the remote nature of the wilderness it may include some brush–popping navigation. Downed trees were encountered and required some steep navigation to access the trail on the other side.
The campground was quiet with no light pollution making the Milky Way a sight to see. I heard coyote and geese at night, and out on the trail saw white tail deer and squirrels. The Eleven Point Section of the Ozark Trail did not fail to deliver some of the best riding in 2016.