Karkaghne Section - TRAIL

Karkaghne Section - Trail, Centerville, Missouri

The Karkaghne epitomizes Ozark Trail riding with its grinding climbs and awesome downhills through remote forests. While it's not too technical, the deadfall, occasionally difficult routefinding, and remoteness make this a serious ride. The eastern half is more difficult. Immediately after leaving the beautiful Sutton Bluff Rec Area, you'll launch into a monster climb with an exposed narrow section hanging over the West Fork of the Black River -- sort of like an Ozark version of the Poison Spider's "portal". After 3.8 miles you'll cross the knee-deep Bee Fork of the Black River. At mile 6.8, you'll drop into a scruffy little valley - bear right into the trees then double back up a big hill. The next several miles run mostly along a ridgeline. You'll cross CR 862 at mile 10.7. If you've had enough, go right 2 miles (awesome downhilling if you take the parallel powerline easement for the second mile) to CR 854 which parallels the Bee Fork. Turn right on CR 854 for ~ 6 (mostly) easy miles back to your car. If you're up for more, cross CR 862 for the final 8.4 miles. Mile 11.7 crosses a powerline easement. At about mile 13.5, you'll be within 100yds of Hwy 72 on your left (south). The next mile or so takes you through some ugly logged/blowdown clearings where markers have been lost. At mile 14.5, you'll climb up to the paved Hwy TT (The Bee Fork and CR854 are 1.3 miles downhill to your right (north). See return route above). After TT, you'll have about 1.5 miles and two excellent downhills before you drop into secluded Vest Hollow. You'll cross a narrow stream before the abrupt, steep, climb out of Vest Hollow at about mile 17. A few easy ridge miles and you're done at mile 19.1. Woo Hoo!

User Reviews (2)

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Deserteagle99uzi   Cross Country Rider [Aug 10, 2010]

This section of the OT was hit hard by the large storm in '08. Most of the deadfall has been cleared but there are still areas that have not fully recovered. Of the 4 parts of the OT that are an accesible distance for me I would have to say this was the least enjoyable. Middlefork, North Trace and South trace all have the benefit of being ridable from 1 trailhead (DD trailhead) so this place gets much less love from the MTB community. It isn't a BAD trail per say but it definitely lacks the polish of the other 3. That being said it is still a well built MTB trail, just not as smooth and flowing as it's brothers.

Customer Service

Out and back take your pick.

Similar Products Used: Middlefork
N,S Trace Creek
Council Bluff
Barry   [Mar 11, 2002]

This rarely-travelled section of the Ozark Trail is a rewarding challenge for the serious backcountry connoisseur. Bring extra water, food, tubes, chaintool, trail map etc. ... maybe even a spare derailleur! Expect several big climbs and a little confusion where downed trees, or the resulting underbrush, have obscured the trail. The trail is marked with white diamonds and the occasional interlocked "OT" marker.

Shortly after leaving Sutton Bluff, you'll ascend over 300 feet in about a half mile and enjoy a fantastic view of the West Fork of the Black River. This is the only place where you could get seriously hurt by a fall.

Just before the Bee Fork, at about mile 3.7, you'll cross old double track which runs to CR854 about 1/4 mile to your right -- this is your only bailout 'til mile 10.7. At CR854, turn right, grind out the very steep 0.8 miles to the intersection with FS2236, then turn right again for about 1.5 miles back to your car.

Across Bee Fork, you'll have more steep hills and great views of the Bee Fork valley to the north. At mile 6.8, you'll drop into a narrow, overgrown, road bed and cross beneath some minor power lines that don't show up on the map. The climb out is very steep. About 3 miles of ridgeline takes you to your second potential bailout at CR862 (mile 10.7). Sutton Bluff is about 8 gravel road miles to your right.

After crossing CR862, the only other opportunity for a road-return to Sutton Bluff which doesn't include Hwy 72, is where the trail climbs up to meet paved Hwy TT at about mile 14.5 (CR854 and the Bee Fork are 2 downhill miles to the right for a total return of about 9.6 miles).

Generally, the 8.4 miles west of CR862 offer more enjoyable climbs and downhills, but are a little less scenic. Having said that, the western end of Vest Hollow (~mile 17) reveals beautiful pine trees and a clear rocky stream before it smacks you with a very steep ascent. The western half of the trail also displays some very good design and construction.

After approximately 19.1 miles, the Karkaghne crosses Hwy 72 about 200' west of the 72/P junction and hooks east to a parking lot on Hwy P, just south of the junction. From here, the Blair Creek section begins its 30+ mile journey south to the Current River.

During several rides, I only saw one other trail user. John and his St. Bernard, Cinderella, were still cheerful after just finishing 3 days on the trail and offered me a lift back to Hwy TT. Since the sun was going down and the locals were starting to drag-race their trucks up and down Hwy 72, I took him up. Thanks John.

Customer Service

Start at Sutton Bluff Rec. Area on the eastern end if you want to do the more difficult riding in the first half of the ride. Camping, parking and scenery are much better at the eastern end. If you want to shorten your ride, return on 8 miles of gravel road when you hit CR862. Although the 8.4 miles west of CR862 are easier, there's no good road return after you cross Hwy TT. If you must return along Hwy 72, I strongly recommend using the intermittent ATV tracks which parallel the blacktop. Don't try this trail without taking the trail map for the Karkaghne Section of the Ozark Trail. If you want to stash water at CR862, look for the power substation on Hwy 72, 2.5 miles east of the 72/P junction, then go left (north) 1.3 miles to where the trail crosses the.

Similar Products Used: other sections of the Ozark Trail
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