Winter Ascent of Taum Sauk Mountain

Winter Ascent of Taum Sauk Mountain

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 37.56660°N / 90.7333°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jan 26, 2008
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Winter


Frozen Mina Sauk FallsFrozen Mina Sauk Falls

We’ve had several weeks of good, cold weather here in the Lower Midwest, with daily highs from about 5 to 25. Fortunately, it looked as if the weather was going to break this past weekend, with highs in the 40s and overnight lows in the 20s. The time was ripe for us to make our assault on Taum Sauk Mountain, the Rooftop of Missouri at 1772 feet.

We arrived at Base Camp, also known as the Taum Sauk Mountain State Park parking lot, without needing to engage the four-wheel-drive option on our vehicle. We checked weather conditions, which seemed to be in the mid 40s, with clear skies. Avy danger was non-existent. We were glad to have waited for the break in the weather instead of attempting this assault earlier in the season.

After stowing our means of transport, we began our ascent. We made sure to remember where we had parked.

The Ascent

The  Via Concreta  on Taum Sauk MountainThe Via Concreta

The standard route progresses 0.1 miles (0.16 km) through a deciduous forest. Because there were no leaves on the trees in winter, visibility conditions were excellent. The slope was quite moderate, and could be attempted backwards in roller blades.

Though Base Camp was unstaffed in winter, navigational aids such as trail signs, maps, and informational brochures were available outside the pit toilets.

It took us a few minutes to reach the summit.

A Dimensional Flux?

Warning Sign on the  Via Concreta Trail Sign on Via Concreta

After the successful ascent, we were still feeling rested and did not need to take advantage of the two park benches supplied by the state of the Missouri near the summit. We decided to continue on to Missouri’s highest waterfall, Mina Sauk Falls, which lie on the slopes of Taum Sauk Mountain.

The slopes of Taum Sauk Mountain seem to exist in a strange part of the space-time continuum. Just below the summit is a trail junction with two trails, both of which claim to go to Mina Sauk Falls. What makes the junction most curious, however, is that there are two signs giving different information about distances. According to the sign on the left, Mina Sauk Falls are 1.2 miles from the junction, while the sign on the right claims that they are 1.4 miles from the junction.

Thus, it appears that Mina Sauk Falls are both 1.2 miles away and 1.4 miles away from the exact same point. I have not yet seen an explanation of this phenomenon in the scientific literature.
Rocky OutcroppingRock Outcroppings

This dimensional flux may explain why Missouri State Parks labels the hike as “strenuous” and “moderately rugged.” Officials suggest that expeditions allow three hours for the 2.6 mile loop trail. Thanks to excellent acclimatization, we were able to complete it in a fraction of this time, with plenty of time for taking pictures.

Longer trails are available, as you can see from the attached sign. The signs warn that the 13-mile trail will take 10 hours, so be aware of the need for conditioning before attempting hikes in this area.

Missouri: better than you think!

Because the summit of Taum Sauk Mountain is the high point of a flat top, surrounded in trees, the views are lousy. However, the right-hand trail to Mina Sauk Falls takes you along the slopes of Taum Sauk Mountain, with views of Missouri’s deepest valley. It’s quite lovely, even in winter.
Summit MonumentSuccess!

Though its high point ranks lower in degree of difficulty than those of some neighboring states, thanks to its location on public land, it is located in a pleasant area. The southern half of Missouri consists of rolling hills and the Ozarks, mostly forested, with a large number of state park and national forest units scattered across the landscape. You’ll never confuse it with Colorado, but you won’t confuse it with Illinois or Indiana, either.

How the degree of difficulty compares with Mount Sunflower....difficult to say.


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-5 of 5

Travis_ - Feb 2, 2008 12:49 am - Voted 10/10


you sucked me in with your background section's base camp and Avy comments, I enjoyed your parody.

Arthur Digbee

Arthur Digbee - Feb 2, 2008 1:49 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: funny....

Glad you were amused. Thanks!


maddie77777 - Feb 5, 2008 1:37 pm - Voted 10/10


These are the types of trip reports I love. Even a lame Missouri hike was transformed into something more magical and mysterious. I just hit my first and second highpoints (Campbell Hill in Ohio and Hoosier Hill in Indiana). I hope to give trip reports on them that are half as entertaining as this one.

::starts doing Rocky-style training to prepare for summit Taum Sauk::

Arthur Digbee

Arthur Digbee - Feb 10, 2008 12:47 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great!

Thanks, and I'll look forward to your trip reports. Hope the training is going well!


aedwards - Dec 17, 2008 5:36 pm - Hasn't voted


Glad you made it back alive. :-)

Viewing: 1-5 of 5



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OzarksTrip Reports
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