Stone County Highpoint Trip Report

four areas (1,460+ ft)

Date: July 31, 2006
Author: Bob Schwab

The first contour is quite distant from the other three, so plan on a fair bit of scenic driving to visit all four sites.

one small area about one mile south of Stutts (1,460+ ft)

From Springfield, head south on US 160 to the tiny settlement of Stutts, where US 160 and Route 248 intersect. The main road appears to bear right (Route 248) but you need to bear left at this intersection (stay on US 160, heading toward Branson). Watch carefully for the first road to your right, which is only about 0.1 mile beyond where the routes split. Turn right on this paved road (CR 80) and continue south for 1.25 miles to an intersection on your right (CR 250). Turn right (southwest) on CR 250 and proceed down the hill just 0.1 mile to a sharp turn to the right. Try to pull off the road here and donít block the lane/drive that goes directly south. Note the old driveway that ascends the hill to the east. Walk up, past an old burned-out structure, and through some junk and tall weeds. Youíll see a fence with erratic angles in it near the 1460-foot contour area. The ground appears to be pretty flat and has been disturbed. This is not a particularly inspiring spot to visit!

Pilot Knob (1,460+ ft)

From the intersection of Routes 86 and 39 in the southwest corner of the county, drive north on Route 39 for 3.4 miles to the junction with Route H. Turn right and drive east on Route H for about 1.7 miles. At this point, there is a trailer house on your left and an old road to your right. The owner of the trailer said it was ok to park there and he said that the road across the street was part of a conservation trail that connects over to a parking area on Route 39 (which you passed on the way to this spot). I thanked him and started my hike south from the gated road. In a very short distance, the conservation trail broke off to the right but I continued to ascend the obvious track up the hill. The path gets pretty steep as you near the top and tree limbs and brush seem to block the way near the top. There is a marker (not the regular BM) right in the middle of four concrete posts where the lookout used to be but the highest ground seems to be south of the tower about 100 feet. I didnít find the real BM but thereís a lot of brush (and poison oak?) to obscure the ground here. Given how steeply this knob rises (apparent rise above the imaginary 1,460-foot contour), I suspect this may be the true high spot in Stone County. Unfortunately, the USGS reports the benchmark at 1427 feet (which has to be wrong, given the BM location within the contours on the topo map). There is no view (in July) through the trees and overgrowth.

two areas southwest of Pilot Knob (1,460+ ft)

I decided to hike from the conservation trail parking area on Route 39 for the last two areas. From Pilot Knob, return to the intersection of Route H and Route 39. Continue south on Route 39 for about 0.8 mile and find a lot carved out of the forest on the east side of the road. This lot is about 2.6 miles north of the RT 39/86 intersection. I parked here and hiked up the trail, which soon tops out as it crosses a low ridge and drops down the east side. At this point, I bushwhacked south and headed toward the first area (spot elevation 1462 feet) directly up the ridge. I had to ascend through maybe 30 feet of caprock, but there were obvious ways to do it. The disgusting part was the briars, which were quite thick and persistent along the entire length of the ridge. The top is not particularly inspiring (no view) and the drop off to the east is steep enough that I opted to stay on the ridge (with the briars) until I reached the head of the ravine off to the east. At this point, I dropped off the ridge to the east and found the going got a lot easier. There is a good view in both directions at the power line right of way. I noticed from this vantage point, that there was an access path of sorts down in the right-of-way to my north and I determined that I would use it to return to the parking lot. From the right- of-way, ascend the ridge to your east and then follow it northeast to the final 1,460+ foot contour, which is also pretty flat. I retraced my route toward the power lines but tried to cut off some distance by dropping down the ridge early. It was quite steep and I was happy to get to the power line and find a path descending to the north. I just followed the right of way and it soon met the official conservation trail. I simply turned left and followed the trail back to the parking lot. The only bad thing about this route is you have to ascend well over a hundred feet to get over the ridge just before you get back to the parking lot.

I think the easiest ascent of these two areas can be made by just following the conservation trail until it finally crosses the power line (it waffles back and forth under the power line quite a bit). At this point, you can see the col to the south. Ascend the power line right-of-way to the col. From there, you can go both right and left to the two areas with much less effort than I expended. The briars are not fun on the ridge and there arenít any trails on the ridges to help you get through the briars, brush, or debris. Be prepared for some poison oak or itís close relatives.