Day Trippin near southwest Missouri: Devil’s Canyon

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.

This weekend, I tackled another hike off of the alltrails.com list of the “best Ozark hikes" in Devil's Canyon. 

A couple weeks ago, I had meant to go here but Apple Maps led me astray. Using Google Maps this time, I was able to make my way to the correct trailhead and found another great escape into nature.

It’s a trail with a lot of elevation change and rough paths, so I wouldn’t recommend it to young children or seniors as it’s an out and back trail that goes up and down quite frequently.

The path to the trailhead itself is quite bumpy, make sure you go slowly, especially if there’s been rain recently as there’s some big potholes before you get to the parking area.

Travel time: I left Joplin at 9:30 and arrived right around 11:30 and you know you’ve arrived at the trailhead when you see a black mailbox with a white dog. At the parking down that road, a sign points you to the direction of Devil’s Canyon .5 miles down to your right.

I spent a lot of time at the overlooks and exploring next to the two waterfalls on this 4.6-mile trail, got back to my car around 3:45 and was home by 6:45 including a stop for dinner with a roundtrip total of 256 miles.

What to look out for: There’s a few overlooks of the canyon you’re going to descend into as you walk down the winding trail that will be on your left hand side and I recommend stopping them for some great views as you’re right on the edge.

The first one is blocked by some foliage but as the path keeps winding, the second, third and fourth all offer great looks to start the trip.

As the trail begins to get steeper, you know you’ve made it the .5 miles when you reach a small creek with a small flow of water and some rocks to provide you with footholds to get across.

The trail seemingly branches off at a few spots, but just make sure to stay on the trail with the pink markers on the trees along it and you’ll be fine.

As you keep doing down, the path does become a bit steeper with more rocks along it and you’ll arrive at the first waterfall and cove. You can leave the path and get right down to the pool under the waterfall but be careful as there is no path to get down there directly and you have to climb over some rocks.

It’s a beautiful sight with the water a blue-greenish tint and is a relaxing stop for some water and a snack if you’ve brought it. The cove is flanked by some big rocks and cutouts that you can climb over and can continue to follow the creek down for quite a way if you’d like to climb over some rocks.

To get back on the trail, you need to climb back up where you first looked down at the waterfall and then it starts to wind up and away from the creek you’ve been following to that point.

As It branches off, you’ll walk through some big boulders on both sides before it comes to a more well-defined path with the markers shortly after.

You’ll walk a good bit before coming to the next look out spot. Right before that look out spot is a rope tied to a tree that descends a couple hundred feet that I checked out on the way back on the loop.

At the overlook directly after seeing that rope, you face a big rock wall and can hear water falling under you. If you lean over you can see a waterfall falling a couple hundred feet and that’s where that rope can take you.

The second waterfall on the Devil's Canyon Trail, be careful the descent down to it is quite steep.

Once you continue along the path, it goes out and I got turned around a bit as it loops out there to get you heading back to the parking trailhead, but if you follow the pink ribbons you’ll be fine.

On the way back, I decided to take the rope down to the bottom of the bigger waterfall. It’s quite steep and you need to be careful, but it is worth it.

Once down there, you’re in a big cauldron and can get right up to the waterfall and look up where the initial overlook is that I mentioned earlier.

It turned out to be a hot day and I decided to douse myself under the waterfall and sure enough, it was ice cold and refreshing.

These hikes are a pleasant surprise each week, with beautiful views and challenging aspects to each of them that make it worth it.

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