Ascent of Taum Sauk Mountain on 2019-03-29

Climber: Joel Wilner

Date:Friday, March 29, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Taum Sauk Mountain
    Elevation:1772 ft / 540 m

Ascent Trip Report

Wanted to make this a into a real hike, in accordance with my philosophy for highpointing - for any mountain with non-negligible prominence, don't cheat by driving to the top, and if you do drive to the top, certainly don't claim a summit. We didn't have time in the trip to do the full Ozark Trail, so I got a bit creative. Drove to the end of Mickan Road (County Road 115) southwest of Taum Sauk Mountain, parking at the fork at the end of the road between two houses. I had seen on an old topographic map of the area that there used to be some sort of trail coming from this road, but this trail didn't show up on many modern maps. Lo and behold, an overgrown Jeep trail began at the fork and we followed it down a gentle slope, hoping to meet up with the Ozark Trail a bit east of the Devil's Tollgate. The Jeep trail was easy to follow for a while but soon it began to disintegrate and it was hard to tell what was the Jeep trail and what were natural gaps in the forest. We ended up bushwhacking to the northeast, fording several streams and then meeting up with what I believed at the time to be the Ozark Trail. I soon realized it wasn't the Ozark Trail because it didn't go past Mina Sauk Falls, though we could hear it in the distance.

After some steeper hiking, we eventually made it to the summit plateau, passing by an abandoned yellow school bus. We made it to the picnic area road loop but couldn't find the highpoint trail anywhere. After looking at the official map, we realized we had to cut across to a different road loop, from which the actual high point trail began. We got to the high point right at sunset, then took the Mina Sauk Trail down to the Ozark Trail, passed the waterfall in the dark with bats swooping at our heads. We found the Jeep trail branching off to the south, but after a bit this trail disintegrated. It seems like this Jeep Trail is coherent only at the beginning and end of the trail. After lots of bushwhacking and stream fording in the dark, we made it back to the car after a round trip of around four hours. I recommend this route for a nice way to experience the Ozark wilderness, but bring a good pair of boots and don't veer to the right from the Jeep Trail too soon on the ascent.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:792 ft / 240 m
    Total Elevation Loss:792 ft / 240 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.3 mi / 10.1 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Mud/Swamp
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Calm, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:592 ft / 180 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 392 ft / 120 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route:Jeep trail, bushwhack, Ozark Trail
    Start Trailhead:End of Mickan Road  1380 ft / 420 m
    Time:1 Hours 51 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:592 ft / 180 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 392 ft / 120 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Gain on way out:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
    Route:Mina Sauk Trail, Ozark Trail, bushwhack, jeep trai
    End Trailhead:End of Mickan Road  1380 ft / 420 m
    Time:1 Hours 42 Minutes

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