Spring Full of Trout, Ozark Views, Hikes a Civil War Hideout
Roaring River State Park, in southeastern Missouri’s Ozark region, offers natural beauty, history, and trails for the outdoor enthusiast.
Trout, trails, and colorful history are only a few delights in Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Missouri.
Features for Hiking, Fishing, and Enjoying the Outdoors
A river meanders through the park, creating valleys and an assortment of rock formations unusual for a park this size. The park’s Roaring River Spring begins in a massive canyon under a cliff and trickles to a clear pool, where visitors can watch and feed the growing trout raised and monitored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The grown trout are great for fishing, though the park includes facilities for camping, picnicking, swimming, bicycling, and hiking as well.
Roaring River’s Historic Hiking and Civil War Legend
Settlers’ cottages began dotting the hills of Roaring River in the early 1800’s’, and bushwhackers hid in the park’s gorges during the Civil War. In the early 1900s, future Roaring River State Park became popular for fishing retreats. The park was established in 1928 from a generous private donation, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built many of the park’s buildings in the 1930s still used for outdoor activities today.
Roaring River includes over ten miles of trails which feature elements of the park’s history and natural beauty, including river gorges where Civil War rebels hid, sparkling streams where visitors have fished trout for generations, and the beauty of wildflower meadows and rolling hills that drew settlers to this region of Missouri over two hundred years ago.
Two trails in Roaring River State Park of particular interest for their historical sights and natural landmarks are the Devil’s Kitchen Trail and the Fire Tower Trail.
The 1.5 mile Devil’s Kitchen Trail takes its name from a rock outcropping that forms a room underground about halfway through the trail. According to legend, this rocky cavern (kitchen) safely housed Civil War guerrillas (devils) on the run from Union troops. Though the Kitchen’s cavern has collapsed, intrepid visitors can still climb down into the room and over the massive rocks forming the walls and roof. The trail also includes some uphill climbing and interpretive signs about the trail’s wildlife, geology, and history.
The park’s longest trail, the Firetower Trail covers three and a half miles of varied terrain including dense hardwood forests, rugged terrain, and meadows with rocky outcroppings. A sudden, steep incline near the trail’s nature center entrance gets nearly any heart rate pounding. Halfway through the trail, a metal lookout, or Fire Tower, keeps watching over the Ozark Hills. The metal, two-story tower, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, remains in excellent condition and can be climbed for a bird-eye view of surrounding hillsides and river valley.
Whether you enjoy fishing for trout, marveling about Civil War history, or hiking through Ozark’s rolling hills and rocky caverns, Roaring River State Park has much to offer. The park, like all Missouri’s State Parks, offers free admission. For the cost of fishing, camping, or other activities, contact the park office at 417-847-2539 or visit the Missouri State Parks online.