Comprising much of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, the Ozarks are a vast region of rocky hills and rivers. The area is bordered by Illinois and Kansas and encompasses a part of Eastern Oklahoma. The Ozarks are highly distinguished by their geography, ecosystems, and human culture. Moreover, the Ozark mountains consist of flat land covered by rivers and streams into the current beautiful hills. The topography is quite distinctive and complicated. For instance, the uplifts forming ridges like those seen in the mountains are not obvious. There are unplanned and disorganized road jumps from ridgeline to valley bottom and descending trails instead of ascending ones, as do most mountain trails elsewhere.

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The Ozarks are divided into four portions: the St. Francois Mountains, the Salem Plateau, the Springfield Plateau, and the Boston Mountains. The regions have various natural arrangements as they comprise lots of limestones and resulting Karst (the result of the dissolution of soluble rocks). But springs, sinkholes, and disappearing streams and caves can also lie beneath. As a matter of fact, the National Park Service (NPS) has found over 300 caves only inside Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR), which only makes up a small portion of the region. It is estimated to have over 600 caves in the whole Ozarks area. The beautiful Ozarks receive millions of visitors, and the lake area alone gets an average of 5.4 million visitors every year.

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Here's The Beautiful Wilderness To Admire When Hiking In The Ozarks

Forests

Undoubtedly, the Ozarks are a biologically rich ecosystem. It has pleasant weather, warm and relatively wet. Ozarks are considered an extension of the southern pine forest associated with Alabama and Mississippi. Pines planted all over the area, along with chiggers, tarantulas, and cottonmouths, remind of southern vibes.

As the Ozarks are part of the Midwest, they include many hardwood forests and prairies connected to the open ones of Oklahoma and Kansas. The region also shares many varieties of the rich flora and fauna found there. For example, one can see the eastern collared lizard that is more typical of the American Southwest and northern Mexico.

Glades

Near or on the top of hills, people can find glades which consist of open rocky areas with thin soils and high exposure to the sun. Desert plants such as prickly-pear cactus, tarantulas, and the few trees create a semi-arid environment. These glades are also a habitat for many insects and several species of lizards.

Wilderness Areas

As the name entails, those spots are beautiful areas to be discovered during hiking in the Ozarks. However, the wildernesses are not everyone's cup of tea as they get little human traffic and have been most probably created for the curious minds and the passionate adventurers.

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Here Are The Various Trail Maps For Those Seeking An Enjoyable Hike

There are several trail systems in the Ozarks, such as the Lower Current River trails and the Upper Current River trails. The former include:

  • Slough Trail: A trail suitable for beginners as it is short and, importantly, wheelchair accessible. The 1.2 miles round trip is a leisurely stroll beginning from the North of the "Big Spring." Throughout the trail, there are interpretive exhibits explaining the area's history. To end the day on a camping mat under a starry sky, hikers can reach the Big Spring Campground by crossing the Peavine Road and heading by taking the River's Edge Trail.
  • Stone Ridge Trail: Another easy trail inviting all beginners for a hike. The 1.2 miles long trail is quite an arduous hike ascending a limestone bluff. Portions of this trail consist of stone steps as the rest segments travel through oak woods with several opportunities for mystic and beautiful scenic views.
  • Partney Ridge Trail: It is a 3.3 miles long trail with minimal grade change passing through a ridgetop forest. Visitors can enjoy wildlife views throughout the hike and meet numerous wild species such as turkey, deer, songbirds, and raptors.

The Upper Current River trails also include even easier and shorter ones to be enjoyed:

  • Susie Nichols Cabin Trail: The 0.6 miles round trip is an easy walk for anyone to enjoy. The trail ends at the farmstead of Susie Nichols, famous for keeping the "old ways" in living. The Nichols homestead is considered a cultural landscape typical of Ozark's lifeways.
  • Welch Spring Trail: It is a 0.8 miles round trip and extends all along the Welch Spring, a torrential spring emitting 78.2 million gallons of crystal-clear water per day.
  • Cave Spring Trail: This 4.6-mile loop is an upgraded trail considered a difficult one since the trail is extended over a cliff. Although the hike isn't smooth, hikers can enjoy exceptional, spectacular views of the Current River.

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