Ozark Trail System
Unlike the National Scenic Trail System, no act of Congress authorized the Ozark Trail. No state agency was mandated to coordinate or complete the trail. In fact, no single entity managed the concept, design or implementation. Instead, it was a cooperative effort of seven governmental agencies, one private landowner and several environmental groups, banded together in what later became the Ozark Trail Council. Meeting bi-annually, this group established a series of connected trail segments over their respective land holdings that together made up the Ozark Trail.
There were benefits and drawbacks of this approach. One obvious benefit is that it didn’t take an act of Congress to get started! Another is that the trail would be designed from the start to accommodate day and weekend usage, rather than just the thru-hiker. The construction of the trail could also begin simultaneously on several fronts, with each land manager working on their respective portions.
Under this cooperative relationship, the Ozark Trail Council oversaw the construction of some 170+ miles of trail in just under a decade. Along with previously existing trails, the Ozark Trail system contained over 200 miles of trail by 1991.
The Ozark Trail Association provides detailed information on their site for each trail and trailhead.
Preparing for the Ozark Trail
Hiking or Cycling the OT can be a strenuous activity. Be sure to prepare before heading out!
- Always let someone know where you are going, and when you plan to return.
- Bring plenty of water and food, and don’t overdo it.
- Download/print a map of the trail section beforehand, as you will not have cell service on much of the trail.