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Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park

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General Information

Description - **Note: This information was provided by www.mostateparks.com.

The beauty and natural wonders of Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park give it a unique character, appealing to a variety of tastes. Water cascading between large, smooth rocks, creating natural waterslides, has made the park a popular recreation destination, and its landscape has piqued the curiosity of all who visit.

One and a half billion years ago, hot volcanic ash and gases spewed into the air, then cooled, forming igneous rock. Later, shallow seas covered the rock, depositing sedimentary rock. The land rose. The sea fell. The weather began tearing down the land, exposing the volcanic rock beneath it. Waters of the Black River became confined, or "shut-in," to a narrow channel. Water-borne sand and gravel cut deeply even into this erosion-resistant rock, swirling, churning…carving potholes, chutes and spectacular canyonlike gorges.

Most of the park, including the shut-ins and two miles of river frontage, was assembled over the course of 17 years and donated to the state in 1955 by Joseph Desloge (1889-1971), a St. Louis civic leader and conservationist from a prominent lead-mining family. The family has continued over the years to donate funds for park improvements.

A one-fourth mile walkway takes visitors to an observation deck overlooking the shut-ins. Camping, hiking and swimming are popular pastimes, with rock climbing allowed by permit from Sept. 2 through the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. Picnic tables and a playground make the park ideal for family outings. Basic and electric campsites are available, along with a park store. All campsites are reservable. Total capacity in the day-use area is 100 vehicles so plan to arrive early. Pets are not allowed in the shut-ins.

Attractions - Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park offers basic and electric campsites and a special-use camping area. Services include reservable sites, a dump station, showers, water and laundry. All campsites in this park are reservable. Water is not available in the park during the off-season. Campsites 27-52 are closed December through February. For reservations, there is a required two-night minimum stay on weekends from April through October and major holidays from May 15 through Sept. 15.

More than 15 picnic sites equipped with a grill and picnic table are located throughout the park. There are playgrounds in both the campground and main day-use area.

Recreation - Fishing is permitted under statewide regulations anywhere on the Black River. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill and perch can all be found in the river. No boats are allowed.

Swimming is one of the park’s most popular activities as the shut-ins form a natural water playground. Swimming is allowed at the shut-ins area in the East Fork of the Black River only. The swimming area can be accessed by a ¼-mile paved trail extending from the park office complex, where a bathhouse and restroom facility is located.

The 2.5-mile Shut-Ins Trail loop provides access to the shut-ins. A gentle, one-quarter mile walkway leads to an observation deck overlooking the scenic upper pothole shut-in. Continuing past the lower chute shut-in, the trail becomes more rugged, looping through the East Fork Wild Area.

This newly constructed 10-mile hiking and equestrian trail is located in Goggins Mountain Wild Area. The loop trail climbs the ridge tops to Goggins Mountain and then travels down the side slopes as it returns to the trailhead. The 5,000-acre wild area includes all of Goggins Mountain and three other igneous domes that are some of the most dramatic in the St. Francois Mountains. The area is heavily wooded with forests of oak and hickory trees, interspersed with rocky openings called glades. These glades provide opportunities for hikers and equestrians to stop and enjoy vistas of nearby mountains, including Bell Mountain and Proffit Mountain. The trailhead includes a parking area for 15 vehicles and trailers and a vault toilet and is located three-quarters of a mile down Hwy. MM. Hwy. MM is located about 1,000 feet west of the entrance to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park on Hwy. N, eight miles north of Lesterville.

This 12.8-mile trail leads hikers east to the adjacent Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. The Ozark Trail also leads west, passing through both the East Fork and Goggins Mountain wild areas into the Bell Mountain Wilderness in Mark Twain National Forest. Backpack camping is allowed along the Ozark Trail.

Climate - Missouri experiences four distinct seasons with an average yearly temperature of 54 degrees F. Summer temperatures reach 90 degrees F often and are plagued with high humidity levels. Nighttime lows during the summer dip slightly near 70 degrees. September brings cooler fall weather with less humidity. By October nights begin to cool significantly and the fall foliage changes to brilliant hues of orange, red and yellow. Winter months bring an average of 24 inches of snow and normal temperatures average between 20 and 45 degrees F. Spring is characterized by wet weather with temperatures reaching between 32 and 60 degrees F.

Location - HC Route 1, Box 126

Middlebrook, MO 63656

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Matt Atnip (Florissant, MO)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Update to the condition of the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail in Johnson's Shut-ins State Park. The Ozark Trail is once again open between Taum Sauk Mountain (highest point in the state)and Johnson's Shut-ins. This 12.5 mile section was a favorite until it the reservoir breach in 2005 took out miles of trail. The trail remains closed from the new scour loop trail in JSI to the Forest Service boundry near Bell Mountain. More trail conditions and free topo maps can be found on the Ozark Trail Association website www.ozarktrail.com.

Filed By: Ben Ream
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail is a great backpacking trail. We did the section from Bell mountain to Johnson Shut-Ins State park. The trail is hard to follow on top the mountains and one must follow the rock cairns to keep stay on the trail. In the woods, there are numerous signs marking the trail. I feel the hike from Taum Sauk Mountain to the Shut-ins would've been a more enjoyable trip. In December 2005, the reservoir atop Proffitt mountain, overlooking the shut-ins failed and the park was destroyed and along with it, a section of the trail. The hike from Taum Sauk to the shut-ins is no longer possible.

More Information

Contact Information:
Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, HC Route 1, Box 126 , Middlebrook, Missouri, 63656, Phone: (573) 546-2450
, moparks@dnr.mo.gov

Additional Information:
Missouri State Parks -

Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites - Official agency website


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