Great Family Vacations Start at Missouri State Parks
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park covers more than 8,600 acres along the East Fork Black River. Carved into the rock by the flow of the Black River for more than 1.4 billion-years, this treasure of geologic history has something for everyone: picnic areas, rugged Ozark landscapes, natural places to swim and great campsites for tents and RVs.
Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park contains more than 45 miles of trails, including areas open for equestrian use. Many of these trails interconnect, allowing for a vast variety of walking, hiking and backpacking options lasting for a few minutes to a few days.
Black River Trail System is an easy walk of several lengths. Beginning at the park’s campground, the trail provides a convenient way to access the valley, the day-use area, the interpretive center and the trail leading to the actual shut-ins. The section between the campground and the day-use area is concrete; stretches inside the valley are crushed limestone. Open to hikers and bicyclists, this trail offers benches for resting.
*From the campgrounds to the main day-use area, the distance is 1.35 miles one way.
*To access the shut-ins from the campground, the distance is 2.5 miles one way.
*To use the trail to visit all the features of the park, the distance is 3.15 miles.
Other trails within the park range from easy to rugged, offering several choices for short strolls and multi-day hikes. On some trails, users may encounter water and stream crossings, natural surfaces, bluffs and drop-offs next to the trail, and steep grades. Individual trails may have restrictions on usage and pets. Carry plenty of water, since water for drinking may not be available along the some of the longer, wilderness trails.
The Shut-Ins Trail covers a 2.25-mile loop. Shut-Ins Trail takes visitors to its namesake – the shut-ins. This rocky gorge along the East Fork of the Black River has thrilled visitors for generations. From the park’s main parking lot, an easy, wheelchair-accessible, boardwalk type trail stretches .30-mile to an observation platform above the flowing waters of the shut-ins. The trail then becomes more moderate and involves some short rocky climbs and a long series of stairs.
The three-mile Campground Trail provides easy access to all the features in the campground, including campsites, camper cabins, a campground store, an interpretive amphitheater, the beaver pond and the special-use area.
Scour Trail is a rugged two-mile loop offering a total escape from civilization. This is a fascinating hike, with ample exhibits and signage to explain the area. This trail involves some uphill climbing on a natural, rocky surface. Hikers encounter water crossings and rocks along the path may be slippery. Plan on at least two hours; however, you can spend all day examining the scour.
The Scour Trail connects with the Ozark Trail, a rugged system of more than 390 miles of hiking and backpacking trails and spurs, some of the most scenic areas of which lie within Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. The 35-mile (total length) Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail is perfect for hiking, backpacking and backpack camping. Watch carefully for “OT” trail markers.
Horseshoe Glade Trail is a moderate 1.5-mile route that takes you into the heart of the area. You experience a sense of wilderness as you pass through forest dominated by oaks, hickories and shortleaf pines before the forest gives way to a rocky clearing known as Horseshoe Glade. This trail is for day-use hiking only.
Goggins Mountain Trail is a 10-mile hiking and equestrian loop that passes through 5,000 acres of forest wilderness. Free of roads, power lines and other development, you can experience something increasingly hard to find – open wilderness. Along this trail, be prepared for some uphill climbs, rocky terrain creek crossings.
The Johnson’s Shut-Ins visitor center contains exhibits covering the park’s plants, animals, geology, first settlers and history. For camping in Missouri State Parks, reservations are recommended.