Park Trails

at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park

Black River Trail System

  • Bicycling/Mountain Biking
  • Hiking

Length: 3.15 Miles View map

The best way to access the shut-ins valley is on the Black River Trail. This trail system was developed to connect people with the different features of the park, including the campground, the day-use area, the interpretive center and the trail leading to the shut-ins. Beginning at the park’s campground, the trail provides a convenient way for campers to access the valley. From the campground, the trail crosses Highway MM then traverses an open area before crossing under Highway N and over a bridge at Cope Hollow. Once inside the main day-use area of the park, the trail provides easy access to the main features of the park. The trail section between the campground and the day-use area is made of concrete and the trail surface inside the valley is crushed limestone. Open to hikers and bicyclists, the trail offers benches along the way for convenient resting places.

For visitors wanting to access the main day-use area of the park from the campground, the distance is 1.35 miles one way.  For visitors wanting to access the shut-ins area from the campground, the distance is 2.5 miles one way. To use the trail to visit all the features of the park, the distance is 3.15 miles.

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
3.15 Miles 30 minutes per mile Loop Brown 1) Off of the south Black River Center parking area; 2) Off the northeast corner of the shut-ins parking area near the Shut-Ins Trail trailhead. 3) Campground entrance

Campground Trail System

  • Bicycling/Mountain Biking
  • Hiking

Length: 3 Miles View map

This trail system provides campers with easy access to all the features in the campground, including campsites, camper cabins, a campground store, an interpretive amphitheater, the beaver pond and the special-use area. In addition to convenient access, the trail provides a great place to explore the area and get some nice exercise to begin or end the day.

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
3 Miles 30 minutes per mile Loop Green Off the first parking area at the campground entrance off County Road MM

Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail

  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding

Length: 10 Miles View map

This moderately difficult loop trail passes through the Goggins Mountain Wild Area – 5,000 acres of oak-hickory forest wilderness, a critical habitat for many songbirds and other animals. Free of roads, powerlines and other development, visitors can experience something increasingly hard to find – wilderness. To extend the hike, use the White Connector that connects Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail to the Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail. Ozark Trail is not open to equestrians.

Along this 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 in the Goggins Mountain Wild Area.

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 Off the first parking area at the entrance of the campground off County Road MM

Horseshoe Glade Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 1.5 Miles View map

Horseshoe Glade Trail takes you into the heart of the East Fork Wild Area. 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 known as 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. Hikers may encounter some water crossings in wet weather. This trail is for day-use hiking. No pets are allowed on 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, 10 minutes Loop Orange At the shut-ins day-use parking area near the Shut-Ins Trail trailhead

Scour Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 2 Miles View map

In 2005, the Upper Taum Sauk Reservoir broke, sending 1.3 billion gallons of water cascading down the mountain through the park. Everything in its path was stripped from the mountainside, leaving a 1.5-mile stretch without trees, flowers or soil. Scour Trail leads visitors 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.  Hikers 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, which is 15 miles to the next trailhead. Watch trail markers carefully!

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 area along State Highway N, just north of the main entrance

Shut-Ins Trail

  • Accessible
  • Hiking

Length: 2.25 Miles View map

Shut-Ins Trail takes visitors to its namesake – the shut-ins. This rocky gorge along the East Fork of the Black River has thrilled visitors for generations. From the main parking lot, an easy, wheelchair-accessible .30-mile trail leads to an observation platform above the flowing waters of the shut-ins. The trail then 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 moderately difficult loop trail involves some short rocky climbs and a long series of stairs. Hikers may also encounter some water crossings in wet weather. Carry plenty of water, since no drinking water is available along the trail. 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 At the main day-use parking area by the River Store

Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking

Length: 35 Miles View map

The rugged 35-mile Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark 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 rocky trail winds through mountains of oak-hickory forest, dotted with shortleaf pine trees, bluffs and rocky glades.

Hikers can travel east into Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. This very rugged 14.5 mile portion of the Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail lies within the St. Francois Mountains Natural Area. Steep, rocky climbs with high rock “steps” and several creek crossings characterize this trail.

Hikers may instead choose to travel 15 miles west. Passing through the scour channel, the trail continues high above the East Fork of the Black River. After crossing the river and State Highway N, hikers enjoy mountain views across open, rocky glades in the Goggins Mountain Wild Area.

The Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail connects to Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail within the park. Another nearby trailhead for the Taum Sauk Section is located along County Road A in the U.S. Forest Service’s Bell Mountain Wilderness Area.

Along this trail, 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 of the trail. Watch out for trail intersections with old roads and firelines. Be sure to follow the trail markers. 

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.

Find the trailhead on the park map
Missouri State Parks Trail Rules and Etiquette
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
14.5 miles 14 hours, 30 minutes Linear Green and White "OT" signs At the Scour Trail trailhead; parking is located along State Highway N just north of the main park entrance.