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Ozark Highlands Trail: White Rock Recreation Area to Cherry Bend Trailhead / Hwy 23

This section routes hikers over several mountains and past numerous streams.

Hiking Moderate

27 km
1.1 km
1.2 km
7-8 hrs
Low Point
245 m
High Point
696 m
Ozark Highlands Trail: White Rock Recreation Area to Cherry Bend Trailhead / Hwy 23 Map

After leaving the White Rock Rec Area, be sure to sign in at the visitor box installed at the intersection for the spur leading to the lookout. It's important for the park service to see that people are using the trail.


For those who chose to bypass the 0.3-mile hike to camp at the recreation area, there are some nice campsites on creek banks in the coming hollows. The second creek crossing has one of the best campsites on the trail, at Spirits Creek. When you first drop down the mountain to reach the creek, the trail passes a well-used campsite. It is right on the banks of the creek, but I prefer to follow the stream less than a mile further for an even better site.

Enroute to this campsite, when the trail crosses Spirits Creek, the bluff to your right usually has a picturesque waterfall. In the winter I have seen a curtain of ice dangling from these cliffs.

After crossing the creek then hiking a little further, just as the trail turns right to climb up the next hill, there is a flat area off to the left with great camping/ This is a sweet area with a readymade fire ring and rock seats, complete with backs. Once you set up camp, be sure to check out the nearby creek. It flows through a narrow rock slot and drops down into a pool. Even during the summer months the pool usually has enough water for a refreshing skinny dip.

After leaving the creek and climbing the hill to cross Ragtown Road, the OHT follows an old abandoned railroad right-of-way. It was used back in the early 1900s to haul logged trees from the area. These were strong hardwood trees used to make railroad ties. You'll hike through several stretches where the builders had to cut a path through the hillside, leaving high dirt walls on each side of the trail, and other areas where they had to build the ground up. If you are observant, you may find remnants of the long-gone railroad.

Leaving the railroad corridor, the trail drops down a hillside to cross a pretty good sized stream called Fane Creek. The OHT routes hikers across the creek on a rock slab. This is the last year-round reliable water until reaching Herrods Creek, some 16 miles further. If the creeks you have been crossing up to this point have been dry, you might want to top off your bottles.

The trail crosses another gravel road before heading back up and over another hill. Descending the other side, you will drop down and pass a spur trail off the left. A short hike will take you to an old turn of the century rock house shelter once used by loggers. It has a concrete floor and a small spring towards the back.

Shortly after returning to the OHT, you pass another intersection. A right turn will take you to the Cherry Bend Trailhead located on Highway 23. The OHT continues straight.



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area