Yeah, you can have that “shut in” feeling and still be outdoors.
At Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in southeast Missouri, the East Fork of the Black River narrows and flows through a maze of hard rock in its path. That forms “shut-ins,” a series of small waterfalls and pools in a meandering stream — a unique scene of beauty.
You seldom will have that view to yourself. The park often is overflowing with visitors, many of who use the pools as a swimming hole. But if you’re the type who savors solitude, there are options.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins, set near Middlebrook, Mo., is a hiker’s paradise. It features a series of trails that will put you off the beaten path and to beautiful vistas. Set in the St. Francois mountain range, the landscape is filled with interesting geological formations and rugged terrain.
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The scene today is far different than it was 10 years ago. In December 2005, the dam at Taum Sauk Reservoir broke, sending 1.3 billion gallons of water rushing down the mountain and into the state park. It stripped the landscape of trees, filled the shut-ins with silt, and greatly affected state park facilities.
But an aggressive clean-up project by the Missouri State Park system has put the park back together again, and has even added some new features to remember the historical significance of the disaster.
The Scour Trail leads hikers along the channel created by the rush of water and past newly exposed geology. This trail also connects with the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail, which is a favorite of hikers and backpackers looking for a more wilderness setting.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park features something for everyone. It has beautiful day-use areas, trails for equestrian and mountain biking interests, and scenic campgrounds.
For more information, call the park office at 573-546-2450.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@fishboybrent.