By exploring Taum Sauk Mountain State Park you can find both Missouri’s highest point as well as the state’s tallest waterfall. Springtime or during wet weather is the best time to visit this beautiful hike in southeastern Missouri in order to see the falls running. The rugged 3 mile Mina Sauk Falls Trail is one of our favorite hikes that shows off the beauty of the Arcadia Valley region of the state.
Mina Sauk Falls Trail
- Distance: 3 mile loop
- Difficulty: 4/5. Rocky, rugged, and can be very wet and muddy. This trail can be slow going, but worth it.
- Scenic Value: 5/5. One of the most scenic trails in Missouri. Beautiful views and the waterfall is amazing. This is a wet weather waterfall, so best to visit in spring or after a rainy period as it is often dry in summer.
To get to the trail head, you head down a paved road that turns to a well graded gravel road, suitable for cars. The road passes an overlook of the area before reaching the parking area.
The start of the trail in Taum Sauk Mountain State Park has a short and paved trail that leads to a marker for the state’s highest point. Don’t expect any good views from this point though.
Once past this short paved section, the loop portion of the trail begins. You can go either way, we usually go right to get to the waterfall a little quicker. The Mina Sauk Falls trail is part of the longer Ozark Trail, so you will see both red blazes for the Mina Sauk Trail as well as white Ozark Trail signs along the route.
While the trail starts out fairly easy and wide, it quickly turns to a rough and rocky trail surface. Watch for puddles and mud. While wet trail conditions make hiking trickier, it means the waterfall is likely to be running.
The path follows or crosses over several small and scenic streams.
Further down the trail, the path breaks out of the woods into a clearing with some great views of the surrounding hills.
The trail gets a little trickier to follow at this section. Several social trails lead down towards the waterfall along with the main trail. Try to keep an eye out for red markers on the trees or Ozark Trail signs. Even if you get off track, just keep heading downhill and you should start to hear the water running.
Soon you should reach the top of the waterfall. Use caution here especially with kids. While the falls are beautiful from above, the best views are from below the falls. Reaching the bottom is worth the effort. Follow the Ozark Trail signs as the trail switchbacks down the valley. (The Mina Sauk Falls loop continues past the top of the falls.)
Once at the bottom, take in the views of the water cascading down. It’s hard to get a picture of the full height of the falls, but it’s one of Missouri’s most scenic spots.
After you’ve had a little break to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of the waterfall, it’s time to climb back up the hill to the loop trail.
Be careful passing by the top of the waterfall, but there are even more smaller waterfalls to be seen above the main falls.
These smaller cascades provide a safer spot for kids to explore or splash on a hot day.
The path continues to follow along the stream past more waterfalls and cascades. A fence and a sign state to remain on the trail in this section.
Another impressive waterfall can be seen off to the right. I do wish the trail included a path down to this set of falls as it’s quite impressive.
The trail continues to follow the creek, sometimes running right next to it as you work your way back up the mountain.
Towards the end of the loop trail, the path passes by two different bent trees. These are a fun thing for the kids to find. These bent trees were often used as Native American trail markers.
The trail continues along through woods and glades back to the parking area. If you still have some energy left, there is a fire tower available for climbing for an even better view of the area.
Additional Things to Know
- The park is open sunrise to sunset, year-round.
- A trail map can be found here.
- A vault toilet is located at the trail head. There is a picnic area and another vault toilet near the overlook and fire tower.
- Primitive camping is available.