Park Trails

at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park

Beaver Pond Trail

  • Hiking

Length: .25 Mile View map

This short walk takes you around a small man-made pond below the cabins in the park’s campground.  Before this campground was built, beavers called this pond home. Look for signs of beaver activity, such as tree stumps chewed through almost to a point, or sticks with all of the bark chewed off. 

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
.25 Mile 10 minute Loop Orange  

Black River Trail System

  • Bicycling/Mountain Biking
  • Hiking

Length: 1.75 Miles View map

These trails run through the main park valley, from County Road N at the park entrance to the main parking lot and Shut-Ins Trail trailhead. Explore all that the park has to offer, from rocks to water to wildlife.  Start at the Black River Center exhibits and then follow the Black River Trail to see the real thing. Visit pavilions, designed to help you understand what makes Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park so special. Walk along the East Fork of the Black River.

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail
  • Road/highway crossing
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
1.75 Miles 30 minutes per mile Loop Brown

Black River Center

Campground Trail System

  • Bicycling/Mountain Biking
  • Hiking

Length: 2.5 Miles View map

The campground in the Goggins Mountain valley was built after the 2005 AmerenUE Upper Taum Sauk Reservoir breach, which destroyed the park’s campground in the main park valley. The new campground includes campsites, cabins, a campground store, an interpretive amphitheater and the Campground Trail System. The trails allow campers to walk or bicycle throughout the campground. 

You may experience:

  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail
  • Road/highway crossing
  • Water/stream crossings without bridges
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
2.5 Miles 30 minutes per mile Loop Green

On County Road MM

Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail

  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding

Length: 10 Miles View map

This somewhat difficult loop passes through the Goggins Mountain Wild Area – 5,000 acres of oak-hickory forest that is critical habitat for many songbirds and other animals.  Free of roads, power lines and other development, you can experience something increasingly hard to find – wilderness. For extending your trip on foot, use the white connector that connects Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail to the Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail. Horses are not permitted on the Ozark Trail. Be prepared for some uphill climbs and rocky foot tread. The trail crosses several rocky creeks, especially in wet weather. Carry plenty of water, since water to treat for drinking may not be available.

You may experience:

  • Water/stream crossings without bridges
  • Steep grades and inclines more than 10 percent
  • Bluffs or drop-offs next to trail
  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail        
  • Low hanging vegetation
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
10 Miles 7 hours, 30 minutes Loop Yellow

Along County Road MM at the park's campground

Horseshoe Glade Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 1.5 Miles View map

This trail takes you into the heart of the East Fork Wild Area in the park. Experience a sense of wildness as you pass through forest dominated by oaks and hickories, dotted with scattered shortleaf pines. Large areas of woodland such as this are critical habitat for the survival of songbirds, bobcats and other wildlife. Forest gives way to a rocky clearing at Horseshoe Glade, providing views across the ancient St. Francois Mountains. The trail also passes near a smaller glade overlooking the East Fork of the Black River. This moderately difficult loop trail has some uphill climb. You may encounter some water crossings in wet weather. No pets are allowed on the Horseshoe Glade Trail.

You may experience:

  • Water/stream crossings without bridges
  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
1.5 Miles 1 hour Loop Orange

Near the Shut-Ins Trail trailhead off the main parking lot

Scour Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 2 Miles View map

On Dec. 14, 2005, the AmerenUE Upper Taum Sauk Reservoir broke, sending 1.3 billion gallons of water cascading down the mountain through Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. Everything in its path was stripped from the mountainside, leaving a three-mile stretch without trees, flowers or soil. Scour Trail loop leads you to this scour channel. Stop at the interpretive pavilion and the upper overlook to learn more about the newly-exposed geology of the scour. Take time to walk into the scour itself along a spur trail, which takes you near some of the many geologic features of the ancient St. Francois Mountains.

This moderately difficult trail involves some uphill climbing on natural, rocky tread.  You may encounter water crossings. Rocks may be slippery, especially when sandy or wet. This trail also connects with the Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail.

You may experience:

  • Water/stream crossings without bridges
  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail
  • Steep grades and inclines more than 10 percent
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
2 Miles 2 hours Loop Red

Parking lot area along County Road N, just north of the main entrance

Shut-Ins Trail

  • Accessible
  • Hiking

Length: 2.25 Miles View map

This trail takes you to the park’s namesake shut-ins. This rocky gorge along the East Fork of the Black River has thrilled visitors for generations. A wheelchair-accessible .30-mile trail leads to an observation platform over the flowing waters of the shut-ins. The trail becomes more difficult, continuing up a stairway. Entering the East Fork Wild Area, Shut-Ins Trail follows natural tread through oak-hickory forest and small glade clearings, eventually returning to the main parking lot. This somewhat strenuous loop trail involves some short rocky climbs and a long series of stairs. You may also encounter some water crossings in wet weather. This trail is for day-use hiking only. No pets are allowed on Shut-Ins Trail.

You may experience:

  • Water/stream crossings without bridges
  • Natural surface, dirt, mud, gravel, shifting rocks, slippery surface, etc.
  • Rocks, roots and/or downed vegetation on trail
  • Wood or stone steps
  • Steep grades and inclines more than 10 percent
  • Bluffs and drop-offs next to the trail
  • Bridges and/or structural crossings
Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
2.25 Miles 1 hour, 40 minutes Loop Blue

Main parking lot

Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking

Length: 35 Miles View map

This trail runs through the heart of the ancient St. Francois Mountains. Some of the most scenic areas lie within Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. This rugged trail winds through mountains of oak-hickory forest, dotted with shortleaf pine trees, bluffs and rocky glades. Several access points allow you to shorten or lengthen your walk.This is a strenuous and challenging trail, so be prepared for the rugged, rocky climb and carry plenty of water. 

Starting at the trailhead, you soon pass into the Goggins Mountain Wild Area of Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, where you are treated to mountain views across open, rocky glades. After crossing County Road N, you will continue high above the East Fork of the Black River to the scour channel. Here, you can follow Scour Trail to the Scour Trail trailhead, near the entrance to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.

Or, you can continue on to the next trailhead at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. Lying within the St. Francois Mountains Natural Area, this rugged 14.5-mile portion includes steep, rocky climbs with high rock “steps” and several creek crossings. The eastern portion of this section passes by the tallest waterfall in Missouri – Mina Sauk Falls. From the top of the falls, you can see across several knobs of the St. Francois Mountains. A short spur near the trailhead takes you to the highest point in Missouri. At 1,772 feet above sea level, this point is an easy walk along a paved path to the trailhead parking lot at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park.

Hardy hikers can continue another five miles beyond the park to the Claybaugh Creek trailhead on State Highway 21. This rugged, difficult trail has rocky tread, steep rocky climbs, high rock “steps” and creek crossings. Seasonal flooding is possible. Use caution as rocks are very slippery when wet.

Follow the green and white “OT” trail markers, allowing plenty of time to complete each portion – Highway A to Scour Trail trailhead, 15 miles, 15 hours; Scour Trail trailhead to Taum Sauk Mountain trailhead, 15 miles, 15 hours. Watch out for trail intersections with old roads and fire lines.

This trail is for hiking, backpacking and backpack camping.  (See Black River Center staff for restrictions.)  Carry plenty of water, since water to treat for drinking may not be available along the trail. The Taum Sauk  Section of the Ozark Trail connects with the Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail and the Scour Trail at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, and with the Mina Sauk Falls Trail at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park.

Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
35 Miles 35 hours Linear Green and White "OT" signs At the Scour Trail trailhead; parking is located along County Road N just north of the main park entrance.