While the Ozark Trail (OT) might not be as well-known as other hiking destinations, it has a lot to offer. Brimming with rocky streams, dolomite glades and plunge-pool-filled shut-ins, the OT offers some of the most geographically unique hiking you’ll find anywhere. With its sprawling vistas and rugged terrain, the OT is not for beginners and is better suited for more experienced hikers. However, its ruggedness also makes it an ideal place to disconnect from the busyness of our modern lives and get back to nature in a true wilderness setting.
It is important to note that most of the OT is open to all users – including cyclists and horses. Be sure to follow proper trail etiquette to avoid conflict with other trail users. A great way to get familiar with the trail is by downloading a map for free on HiiKER and using it to plan your trip.
When you do hit the trail, make sure to bring plenty of water and food. You will also need to be prepared for the weather and terrain conditions. The best time to hike the OT is spring and fall, when temperatures are cooler and the trails are less crowded.
To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the OT, you should plan to camp out for at least one night. There are many campgrounds along the OT in both Oklahoma and Missouri. Many of them provide toilets, showers and running water. However, it is always good to bring a portable toilet and extra water just in case of emergencies.
The OT is a historic highway that predated the Interstate system by many decades. It was originally built in 1913 by a group called the Ozark Trails Association, which sought to encourage local municipalities to improve roads. The organization held annual meetings in different states to promote tourism and raise awareness for the need for better roads. The group’s members were from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and New Mexico.
If you’re planning a hike on the OT, it’s important to be aware of any park and forest service closures. These closures can be found on the OTA’s website and will affect the entire length of the trail.
For the best hiking experience, lace up your boots and grab a backpack equipped with essentials like sleeping bags and a tent. Be sure to pick up a backpack with a large, top-loading main compartment for all of your camping gear. Hydration compatibility and trekking pole attachments are also essential features for your backpack.
The obelisk that marks the beginning of the OT is located in Sapulpa, just west of Hwy 66. It’s easy to spot and a great photo-op for Route 66 enthusiasts. Continuing on to the OT, you’ll see more signs of history as the trail crosses over railroad tracks and past houses on either side. You’ll pass under a short railroad overpass and soon reconnect with Hwy 66 in Bristow. Ozark Trail Customer Service