Ridge Runner (North Fork Loop) - TRAIL

Ridge Runner (North Fork Loop) - Trail, West Plains, Missouri

Remote, challenging, singletrack. Big climbs, big descents, stunning scenery. This loop, and the Noblett Lake Loop (8 miles) are positioned on either end of the 23-mile long Ridge Runner section of the Ozark Trail

User Reviews (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2  
shoemaken   Weekend Warrior [May 16, 2004]

Trails in this area have two common traits. They are the most beautiful in the state, but are ususally underridden and overgrown. Ridge runner is an example of this. If you can work your way through the undergrowth and don't mind riding through a few spider webs, your in for a real treat. If your really ambitious, you can find your way to a pristene ozark spring-fed river along the way. This trail is more of a walker's habitat.

Similar Products Used: There is also a trailhead about 3 miles north of Ridge Runner on CC hwy. It is very similar to Ridge Runner, but I would recommend it more, as it is traveled more. The northern edge of the ridge runner trail is often considered seperately from the soutern edge described above. It is located off AP highway at Noblett Lake recreational area.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Barry   [Apr 06, 2000]

This challenging singletrack negotiates several steep, forested, ridges near the spring-fed North Fork River. Several sustained climbs of a 1/2 mile or more, considerable dead-fall, and a couple of steep, loose, switchbacks, will require good fitness or a lot of patience.

The eastern side of the NF loop is well-marked with grey or white diamonds. The western side has the Ozark Trail's white and green interlocked "OT", in addition to the grey diamonds. The trail is 98% singletrack with the exception of few short sections on the western side. Don't get sidetracked by the doubletrack horse trail which crisscrosses the singletrack in several places. Just look for markers and backtrack if you don't see one for a while. Also, if you pass a trail camp after 6 miles or so, backtrack about 100' (past doubletrack) to the 3-way intersection where the loop heads back west and south.

From the North Fork Rec Area, you climb for most of the 1.9 mile out-and-back connector. At the three-way intersection, take a right. (Don't get sidetracked on a doubletrack horse trail which criss-crosses the singletrack in several places.)

Follow the markers, crossing doubletrack a few times, until you come to the second 3-way intersection at about 6 miles. Go left here to stay on the loop. If you go right, you pass a trail camp after about 100' and head north for ~ 17 miles to Noblett Lake.

After you turn left onto the western edge of the loop, you have several more challenging climbs and wild descents.

There's a hairy drop down the western side of a ridge, past many fallen trees, towards the river and into Steam Mill Hollow. From the hollow, you'll start a very long climb up a pine covered ridge. At the top, you'll be at an informal camp in an open area with doubletrack crossing it. Turn right on this doubletrack for about 100 yds until you pick up more markers and head back into the woods. Just past mile 10, you'll be back at the intersection with the out-and-back trail. Turn right and enjoy wicked downhilling back to your car.

Given the many miles of trails in this area, the good camping, beautiful scenery, trout fishing, and access to services in West Plains, this area is high on my list of mtb-weekend destinations.

I highly recommend taking the Forest Service's Ridge Runner Trail topo map on this ride. Try calling the Willow Springs office at (573) 469-3155 or the Supervisor's office in Rolla at (573) 364-4621. (There's also a map for the Devil's Backbone Wilderness trails.)

Customer Service

Do the North Fork Loop counterclockwise from the Rec. Area parking on hwy CC -- this lets you take the very long, steep and rocky hill next to the North Fork River as a downhill.

Similar Products Used: Noblett Lake Loop and the entire Ridge Runner Trail.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-2 of 2  

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