“Indeed, without the evergreens for contrast, the autumnal tints would lose much of their effect.”
-Henry David Thoreau-
During the first day of our short vacation this fall, Sarah and I took the winding, yet scenic Hwy 19 south. Always a nice drive, it is particularly attractive in autumn. About halfway through the drive the sky opened up on us, but I did use this opportunity to find a few new places and at least get them on the ol’ GPS. This stretch of highway contains many potential destinations and we have only begun making real visits or hikes into most of these. Later, we went back to a place I’ve had on my radar for quite some time, the “Virgin Pine Forest”. This amounts to a strip of apparently virgin shortleaf pine, many of which are over 200 years old, on both sides of the road. The wind was very strong here so I let the pines tell their story…
Just a short drive from the town of Steelville lies the aptly-named “Red Bluff Recreation Area”. I have seen photographs of this place and it was as beautiful in person. Carved over time by Huzzah Creek, these bluffs get their color from the high amounts of iron oxide in the limestone. This spot was almost indescribable. Incredibly peaceful and full of singing birds, the first thing I did was take off my shoes and pants and wade into the river to make this picture. At times like these my city-slicker feet never fail to disappoint me. Each step was painful and it was then that I realized my mitochondria training regimen was getting me nowhere. Anyway, this place has lots that would make a return trip worth the drive, including a natural arch and the ruins of an old grist mill site. Definitely a place on my “return to” list.
Continuing on Hwy 19, south of Winona is another of our favorite visited spots – Falling Spring. This spot is out of the way and if the spring is flowing, will never disappoint. My mind’s eye pictured better autumn colors than were actually found, but it is always a treat to find that vandals have not completely taken the old structure down.
Further west in south-central Missouri Sarah and I visited the Hodgson Water Mill located on Bryant Creek. This picturesque mill is still in business as a museum/store. The spring discharges from a cave just behind the building and its 24 million gallons per day powered two underwater turbines for milling operations.
So that’s a little more from our splendid autumn Ozark trip from 2012. I still have a few images to share and will hopefully post some in the near future. I’m quite thankful that there are so many nicely written books available with descriptions of these locations. I use these books quite often and one of these days I will list them in a post.
The Mark Twain National Forest contains near 1.5 million acres across the Missouri Ozarks. Make some time to pay a visit, as it belongs to us all, except the areas that are logged… ;=)