The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday during our day hike to Hercules Glade Wilderness, which is part of the Mark Twain National Forest in the Missouri Ozarks. We started out at the Blair Ridge trailhead and headed down to Long Creek, crossing the creek and heading up to the Upper Pilot Knob. Once we reached that side, we headed back down to the creek and back to the Blair Ridge trailhead. That ended up being a 12-mile hike for the day. Read on for details and some amazing photos.
Since I have been battling bronchitis, our trip to Hercules Glade Wilderness had been postponed for a week and while I wasn’t 100%, I couldn’t bear waiting another week to get out in the woods. I needed to get away from being in town and listening to the neighbor’s kids screaming all the time and the traffic. So we made an impromptu decision on Friday afternoon to leave that night and drive to Hercules Glade, camp at the Coy Bald trailhead campground and then head out early Saturday morning, hike all day, and then drive home Saturday night.
Being that we keep all of our gear fairly organized, we can grab everything we need quickly. I got home a little early from work on Friday and started grabbing everything. We were supposed to have done this trip the week prior but since we got sick and cancelled at the last minute, all of our gear and supplies were pretty much ready to go. So I started grabbing everything and sat in on the kitchen counter (that way Mike would know what I had ready to pack). The only thing we forgot was our Jet Boil stove (ouch… no coffee Saturday morning) and our coffee cups. Obviously having coffee was not in our future. Once Mike got home, we headed toward the Ozarks and what would be about a 3-1/2 hour drive. (Coy Bald has been my arch nemesis…being that this would be the second trip there; however, you won’t see a previous review of the trail, but I’m going to include that story for this post).
Just to set up the story a little for Hercules Glade. Last year in April 2013, we went to the Coy Bald trail and I never added a post for it because I was not feeling good that day at all. I had gotten extremely car sick on the way down and taking medicine to try and stop it only made me tired. That was also the beginning of the time when my back started getting really bad (leading to my spinal simulator placement later that year). There were really a lot of bad things happening that day in April 2013 when we went to Coy Bald. We drove all the way there, and it was a really long drive being that I started getting sick and we had to stop several times but I refused to give up and we finally made it to Coy Bald. Once we parked, I jumped out of the car, grabbed a towel, and laid down on the ground for a bit trying not to throw up. After a half hour or so, I thought I could handle it and so we started hiking toward the creek. We had intended on doing an overnight stay. I made it across the creek, threw down my pack, grabbed my inflatable air pad and slept for 2 hours in the woods. I was just not doing well at all. When I woke up, I told Mike either we set up camp here for the night or we head home. We headed home. Mike had to carry my pack out. It was so miserable. I pretended that trip never even happened since it was such a major failure. So I had always been very nervous about heading to Coy Bald trail again. However, I decided the time had finally come for me to face my fear and thus we decided over a year later to try again.
Before I get into our trip yesterday, I had to tell that story about our previous attempt at Coy Bald because I was afraid that something bad would happen. Sure enough, Friday night about 9:30 pm we made it to Coy Bald. I took some Bonine (for anyone who experiences motion sickness, try Bonine. It works wonderfully and doesn’t cause drowsiness. Take one pill the day before you plan on traveling and one the morning of).
We passed a vehicle on the tiny little road right before you cross the creek and that was my first red flag. So when we arrived at Coy Bald trailhead late Friday night, about 30-40 vehicles (I kid you not) were parked at the trailhead. There were at least 100 kids (they looked high school age to me) at the campground around a huge bonfire (is that allowed) and they were drinking and partying.
We were flabbergasted. We were exhausted. We were ready to set up camp and sleep so we would get to have coffee in the morning and watch the sun rise (not knowing at this point there would be no coffee). SHIT! What to do? Crap, crap, crap. I kept thinking, “are you kidding me?” Not again. Coy Bald was just going to kick my butt again. I stopped the car, got out, looked around. I asked one couple (they looked 16 to me) if they were going to be there all night and they said yes. We had not brought all of our gear and while we could have went out in the woods a few hundred yards and set up the tent, I didn’t drive for nearly 4 hours to get in the middle of nowhere to hear a bunch of noise and be up all night. So we talked it over and we decided to get in the car and head back to Forsyth where we had seen a little hotel, stay there the night, and then get an early start in the morning on hiking.
Heading back down the little road, we came across a few cars heading toward us. We pulled over as best we could, but the road isn’t made for cars to pass each other. It was crazy. We passed half a dozen cars leaving. When we got near highway 160 (being that I spend so much time looking at the maps ahead of time), I remembered we could head to another trailhead and see what it was like. I did a quick look at the map (always carry paper maps) and figured the way to Blair Ridge. Granted we passed Blair Ridge trailhead but found a place to pull aside and sleep (quietly) for the night.
Saturday morning, we got up early and watched the sun come up (with no coffee), packed up, changed clothes, and drove the mile or so to the Blair Ridge trailhead. While things didn’t go as planned Friday night, we were back on track for Saturday. I didn’t have a route planned for starting from Blair Ridge but this also was the first trip for using my new Gaia GPS and thank goodness I was using it instead of AllTrails being that if I was using AllTrails, I wouldn’t have the entire wilderness wilderness trail map available.
So we started hiking from Blair Ridge around 7:00 am Saturday morning. It is absolutely gorgeous on Blair Ridge. I would recommend anyone take the time to hike this trail. Even though its an in-and-out trail and it is nearly 3 miles from the traihead to any of the other loops, it sure has amazing views. A tip to anyone is that from the trailhead to the creek, it’s all downhill. If you plan on hiking to the trailhead, it’s up hill all the way from the creek to Blair Ridge trailhead.
Here are some pictures of the amazing views along Blair Ridge trail.
At 3 miles, we reached Long Creek. There is a nice campsite to the east of the trail intersection right before the creek. The creek was flowing nicely. There was potable water. You could hear a few very small waterfalls up the creek. Nice clear water.
In this picture, I’m standing in the middle of the campsite looking back toward the trail intersection, just on the south side of Long Creek.
Long Creek at the Blair Ridge intersection
All along the trail, there were red buds and dogwoods in bloom. It was very picturesque. A single word to describe the landscape would be diverse. One minute you are in hardwood forests and the next out in an open glade or in the middle of a spooky cedar forest. Hercules Glade is a DO NOT MISS.
Our track from 4.19.2014:
Title: Hercules Glade Wilderness 4.19.2014
Track lenght: 18.71Km.
Altitude range: 135m. (Min height: 269m. Max height: 404m.)
Total climb: 301m. Total descent: 301 m.
Page link: http://tammyonthetrail.com
Caught On Google Earth
Here is the track of our original hike and the few photos I took to Coy Bald back in April 2013. This has an especially interesting meaning and the only reason I even bring up the story now is the fact that I was reading this post over on Ozarks Walkabout which mentions that Google Earth updated the satellite photo for the Coy Bald trail the day they were there. I thought, you know that is just about the time we were there…I wonder. Sure enough, I pulled up our track for Coy Bald and that was the exact day we were there as well. What are the odds? This picture actually shows my car and what I believe are Mike and I walking around the car getting everything out. It looks (guessing) like the hatchback is up and the doors are open which would be correct.
Title: Coy Bald 4.13.2013
Track lenght: 2.81Km.
Altitude range: 84m. (Min height: 223m. Max height: 307m.)
Total climb: 117m. Total descent: 112 m.
Page link: http://tammyonthetrail.com
Resources for Hercules Glade Wilderness: