Top Five Ozark Springs
By Sarah Sadler
One of many unique features of the Missouri Ozarks are the natural springs throughout the area. The iconic Alley Spring and Mill represent the Ozarks well, with its strong history and beauty. Here are five other Ozark favorites.
Off the beaten path and different than the typical Missouri spring is Falling Spring, located in Oregon County near the Eleven Point River. With a constant flow cascading from a rock bluff, this unusual spring and historic mill are a beautiful backdrop, especially in the changing colors of autumn.
Falling Spring is an ideal lunch stop on a day-trip to other sights within the Mark Twain National Forest, such as nearby Turners Mill and Greer Spring. The picnic area overlooks the quaint mill and mid-1800s cabin and the sound of the trickling waterfall can be heard in the background.
This breathtaking Shannon County gem was once called “Spring of the Summer Sky” by Native Americans, but is now known as Blue Spring. It is said to be the deepest spring in Missouri at 310 feet deep, and that depth is what gives it the beautiful blue appearance.
The trail to Blue Spring is a quick half-mile trek from the parking area, and only a quarter-mile from the river if accessed by boat. Another short trail leads to an overlook above the spring offering a birdseye view of the water flowing into Current River.
Once a lumber mill, Wayne County’s Markham Spring is now a Recreation Area featuring a historic stone house, six springs and four hiking trails. The park’s river bluffs provide an impressive view of the Black River along the Eagle Bluff Trail. Back at the largest spring pond a small mill still stands, preserving the rich history of the area.
Markham Spring and the Fuch’s Home are located just a short walk from both the parking area and the campground.
Located between Akers and Pulltite access points along the Current River, Cave Spring is impossible to miss while floating. It is a popular stop for paddlers along the upper Current, with a cave opening large enough for several canoes or kayaks to enter. There are no roads leading to Cave Spring, so other than by boat a visit requires a five mile hike from nearby Devil’s Well. Water from the Devil’s Well sinkhole and underground lake has been traced to Cave Spring, where it then joins Current River.
With an average daily flow of nearly 300 million gallons of water, I’ve saved the best for last. Big Spring is a stunning sight and a natural gem of the Missouri Ozarks. It was the first State Park in Missouri before becoming a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 1969 and competes with only two other springs for the title of the largest spring in the nation.
Big Spring is easily accessible by car making it a popular stop year around. The park’s trail system is also linked to the Ozark Trail. For those planning more than a day-trip there is tent and RV camping in the Big Spring Campground.