After we finished the Ozark Trail Segment in Missouri, knowing that temps were dropping too low to camp, we decided to hit a few sights as we drove towards home. Ever see two middle age people get out of a truck after a 2 hour drive after an 11 mile hike? We walked like penguins to see the Alley Spring, which is both incredible and beautiful. 81 million gallons of water a day naturally pumps out of this spring. The old flour mill is now a museum.
After our nice little stretch, we drove to Springfield, MO, arriving as the sun was setting. Springfield is a great town with loads of attractions. It is historic, has many “things to see and do,” and this is where the original Bass Pro Shop all started. Plus, it is the starting point of Route 66. Of course we had to stay at “the” Route 66 Rail Haven motel – which is just a motel – but Elvis stayed here once.
The next morning we cruised through town to sightsee, We meandered over to see the giant Bass Pro Shop and it is VAST. In addition to all things Bass Pro Shop, there were 3 museums. We cruised through two of them: The NRA Collection of Guns, & The Archery Hall of Fame. But we skipped the Aquarium. After lunch we headed to Branson MO – just to see what this place is all about. Branson may have been a nice place 20 years ago, but now, it is a crowded tourist town. With all the hokey tourist town trappings, the only thing I can recommend are the 2 mountain coasters. On the day we drove through, only one of them was open. It was fun. Branson Coaster
Next up was Bentonville, so I could see the Crystal Bridges Museum. Even though it wasn’t on Jason’s bucket list, I think he liked it also. We spent the morning walking about 4 miles on the trails outside the museum – dotted with outside sculptures and artwork. And then spent about 2 hours in the museum itself – which is quite large. It is a free entry museum and we both recommend visiting.
As a closer, we spent the next 2 days camping at Devil’s Den State Park in AR. We hiked the Yellow Rock Trail on the evening we arrived, and enjoyed the views from the overlook. The trail is only 3 miles, but has a bit of elevation gain. It was a great evening hike.
The next day, early, we set off on the Butterfield Loop Trail. We could have done the 15.8 miles as a day hike, but campsites were fully booked at Devil’s Den, so we decided to camp on the trail. The downside was the scarcity of water. We loaded up with water – a gallon of water adds 8 pounds to your pack and I felt it. The trail starts by the park’s lake, but we saw very little water after that. Around noon, we saw a couple large pools at Rock Hole camp. We started to look for a camp at about 4 pm and walked down to Junction Camp but found no water. We continued on the loop until we finally found a flat camp and stopped for the night. We covered 12.5 miles in about 8 hours (with stops).
This trail gets its name from the Butterfield Stagecoach which ran in the area between 1858-1861. It is also near the Trail of Tears; the forced migration of Native Americans. And near the Civil War Trail. Can you say ghosts? I mean – if you want to run into ghosts, this is the trail. Did we? We think so. Strange rustling in the leaves, odd lights in the distance through the trees, and a loud howling in the middle of the night – not coyotes, not a bird. Neither one of us slept well, and the fact that a solo backpacker strolled down the trail at about 8pm didn’t help. We couldn’t even have a campfire to warm our nerves. We packed up early the next morning and headed to the ranger station. The Butterfield Trail, with spurs (we hiked to Junction Camp and to the Overlook) was a 17.2 mile hike we completed in 9 hr 30 min with an over-night camp. The elevation gain overall was about 2,200 ft. The trail is rocky, overgrown in some sections, but well marked with blue blazes. Be alert to the blazes, as numerous spur trails and junctions cross the trail. I recommend pants and good hikers due to the overgrowth and the bugs.
Hope you enjoyed seeing Arkansas and Missouri. Until next time,