Day Trippin near southwest Missouri: White Rock Mountain

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

Over the course of this summer, I’ll be plotting out and exploring some day trips that can be made in the southwest Missouri area.

Initially, I meant to cross of another hike from the list that I had started the series with from after searching, “best Ozark hikes.”

But after leaving Saturday morning for what I thought would be #4 on the list, Devils Canyon Scenic Area Trail & Bushwhack, I ended up at driveway with a sign that specifically said, “NOT an entrance to Devils Canyon.” So, if you have an iPhone do not simply search Devils Canyon because that is not where you want to go!

After sitting on the side of the road in Mulberry, Arkansas I quickly found #8 on the list, the “White Rock Rim Trail” at White Rock Mountain that was nearby.

White Rock Mountain is 2,309 feet above sea level and is named so as a result of the lichen on the bluffs making it appear white from a distance.

If you want to make a trip out of it, there are cabins and campgrounds available with incredible views. In addition to the short-looped trail I took for this day trip, it also connected to the 17-mile Shores Lake loop trail as well as the Ozark Highlands Trail if you’re looking for more hiking.

Travel time: My travel time was a bit skewed as I left Joplin around 9:30 with an estimated travel time of two hours and 15 minutes to what I thought was Devils Canyon. By the time I figured out I was at the wrong place and found a nearby alternative, it was 12:45.

Further skewing the time, after taking plenty of time on the 2.1-mile White Rock Rim Trail loop, I looked for another hidden spot that someone on the trail told me about that was nearby. But that spot will remain hidden because I hiked a mile or so down the path that was definitely not the right place. But I was back home a little after 7 p.m.

Cost: Parking at the top of the mountain costs $3 no matter how long you are there for. Well worth it.

What to look out for: One of the things I liked about this easy trail was that it started off with an incredible overlook as soon as you got there.

The initial shelter house/overlook as soon as you get to to the trail, the first view you see. I won't spoil it for you just make sure you walk right up to that wall when you get there.
A view from just in front of the main overlook as soon as you get to the trail.

From there, you could go left or right on the looped trail that had great views opposite the main overlook to the northwest. But it doesn’t really matter whether you look south or east, the view is stellar with multiple rocks to step out on all along the looped trail.

One thing to keep in mind, the trails are quite narrow and right along the edge of the mountain. The sign leading down to the main overlook warns of the trail going right along the cliffside so that would be something to think about with young kids or elderly members of your party.

Another south facing view from the White Rock Mountain Rim trail.

I spent a good amount of time at the first overlook, you can get out on a rock and look out at almost a 270-degree angle. There were turkey vultures floating on the wind currents that day and one of the things I thought sitting out on the rock looking out below was how cool it was to be above some of them and watching them float lazily on the current.

Leaving the outlook, I went left towards Gargoyle Boulders which face southeast. Along the way, there is a storm shelter that provides a place to rest with a nice view. There are also shelters on the north and west sides of the trail on the loop that provide places to rest and sight see.

A view facing south on the White Rock Mountain Rim trail

There are three water fountains that look like they’ve been out of service for years so as with any hike, make sure you’ve got something to drink!

Once you reach Gargoyle Boulders, make sure to stay on the White Rock Mountain Rim Trail to the left and not right towards the Ozark Highlands Trail or you’ll be looking at quite a long hike.

The main shelter house, pictured left, makes for an incredible view.