Ozark Trail: Peck Ranch to Rocky Creek Falls


What a fantastic break in this exceptionally cold winter!

Glen approaching the top of Stegall Glades, a fantastic view!
Glen approaching the top of Stegall Glades, a fantastic view!

Glen and I did this short hike at the end of January over two days.  It was short (just 5 miles or so each way), but it featured a great overlook of rolling hills and what is becoming my favorite backcountry campsite at Rocky Creek Falls.

Since it was such a short hike, we made our way down to the trailhead at Peck Ranch from St. Louis and arrived around 11:00.  The cop that pulled Glen over on the way down was the last person we saw till we got back on the road the next day!  I guess no one could believe that the weather had broken enough to spend anytime outside yet.

The gravel road that you start on from the trailhead.

This short section of the Ozark Trail is a pretty straightforward topographically.  You start out low, climb to the top of Stegall Glades, then descend back down to reach Rocky Creek Falls. The climb is fairly steep, but without a ton of hiking ahead of us, we decided to just truck right to the top for lunch.

Stegall Glades is well worth the climb.

The wind was really whipping around on top of this bald spot on the mountain.  By the end of lunch I was ready to add a layer back on that I removed during the climb.  From this point on the sun pretty much left us which was too bad.  Considering how cold this winter has been though it still felt like summer!

The path back down the mountian.
The path back down the mountain.

Before long we had reached our campsite for the evening, just beneath Rocky Creek Falls.  It was just as we had left it a few years earlier.

No the fire was not still burning when we got there.
No the fire was not still burning when we got there.

After climbing around Rocky Creek Falls for a bit we got the campsite together and made dinner.  If Glen, writes a story about this trip I am sure he will go into more detail on his dinner as we was quite proud of it.  My red pepper pasta from Trader Joe’s was quite delightful.

About to settle in for a cold evening.
About to settle in for a cold evening.

Despite my new sleeping bag as well as a new sleeping bag liner and a new sleeping pad rated for better than the temperatures we would get that night, I still slept quite cool.  I think next time I am going to get out in roughly freezing temperatures I will bring a second pad, because that is definitely where all my heat was going.  Overall I slept just fine though and the next morning we went back the way we came.  My camera ran out of batteries overnight, so there is unfortunately no more pictures from what was much sunnier day.

Overall, this short hike ended up being a great mid-winter treat. I think it would be great starter hike for anyone wanting to give backpacking a try.  Go check it out!