A couple days with no rain and reasonably cool temperatures came my way and I made the most of it with an overnight trip on the Shores Lake & White Rock Mountain Loop. It was the third time I’d hiked it, but my first time solo, and the first time going counter-clockwise. In either direction there’s a climb of about 1200′ to the top of White Rock Mountain so I don’t think there’s an easy way – except to drive.
There are USFS recreation areas at Shores Lake and 6 miles north on top of White Rock Mountain. The one on top has some of the best views in the Ozarks and is especially popular in the fall when the autumn color arrives.
I started at the Shores Lake trail head ($3/day parking fee) and hiked up the east leg with a short detour west on the Ozark Highlands Trail to Salt Fork Creek. We had some rain recently so it looked about the same as the last time I saw it, though the surrounding vegetation sure looked different. I stopped there for some rest and food, knowing it was going to be all uphill for quite awhile once I got going again.
I got to the top around 3:00 PM, set up the tent in the campground ($11/night) and still had plenty of time before dinner to hike the 2.1 mile Rim Trail that circumscribes the top of the mountain. After dinner I headed to the Sunset Overlook to watch the buzzards riding the wind as the sun set.
The next morning I headed south on the west leg of the loop, with a long descent that passes through the upper part of White Rock Creek Falls before dropping further and crossing White Rock Creek twice before arriving at White Rock Creek Cascade. The water was flowing better than I’d seen it before so it seemed like a good place for another break before finishing the couple miles back to the trail head.