Two friends and I planned a three day backpacking trip of the Big Piney Trail in the Mark Twain National Forest. Having seen the trail featured in Backpacker Magazine a few years ago, the trail was added to my list of trails I’d like to do, considering it was only a few hours from Kansas City. The resources of information regarding the trail were limited but it seemed straight forward enough that we decided to go ahead and hike it. It’s recommended that the trail be split into two days but we wanted to make three out of it. The hike started off well enough, with clear trail markers leading from the parking lot and a fairly clear trail which made hiking easy. Our first waypoint was to be the first water source which would also be our first camp on the trail. We crossed a few dry creek beds which we questioned if that was supposed to be the water source we were seeking, but decided to continue on until we found water. After another hour of hiking we made the assumption that we were definitely far beyond that creek that was to be our first stop so we decided to pull out our phones in an attempt to find our location. We found that we were indeed twice the distance from the trailhead to that first stream and close enough to Big Piney Creek so we decided to continue to that point and camp near the stream.
By this point the trail markers were disappearing and more than once we had questioned our route but resolved that there was nowhere else we could have been but on the south loop of the trail.
We found a suitable campsite near the water and had a great night (despite great difficulty in our attempts at building a fire with wet firewood). We woke to make breakfast at a slow pace and when finished, we spotted 4 people on a trail across the river on horseback and we assumed that to be the continuation of our trail. It most definitely was not. By the time we realized that, however, we were two miles too far down the wrong path and realized we had made our way onto an old logging road taking us straight to a forest service road and thus eventually to the parking lot. Unfortunately the parking lot was still 7 miles away from that point and the blisters on my heels, I could feel, were rubbing terribly raw. To shorten the story, I was consistently losing ground to the two other guys and could barely walk by the time we got the the jeep. We decided to camp by the small lake that night and drive out early in the morning to be back in KC around noon.
Overall the Big Piney Trail would be a fantastic overnight or two-night trip if it was maintained and marked well. Our weekend trip was not as planned, but a good memory made. Here are a few shots from the trail.