Buford Mountain Loop January 21, 2017

I have been staring at Buford Mountain every time I go to Bell Mountain and wondering; "that looks like a great hike, I wonder if I can get up there". Then I saw a post about the top 10 "peaks" in Missouri and at the same time someone posted about an obscure hike called Buford Mountain. It all fell into place for a day out on a new trail and a new hill.
Buford Mountain is in that pocket between Caledonia, MO and Pilot Knob, MO. a mix of farm land and hills. It turns out it is easy to reach off Hwy U, just off of Hwy 21.
There are two parking areas. the lower is just off the road and if the gate is closed you have to walk the gravel road a mile to reach the actual trail start point, but today the gate was open and so I drove up to the trailhead.






















I arrived at 8:15 and was on the trail at 8:25. Just 2 weeks ago we were on Bell Mountain for the Frozen Butt hang and it was -2F. Today as I hit the trail it was almost 50 F with the expectation that it would be in the mid 60's F by the afternoon.
It was going to be a fantastic blue sky day.

The trail starts out a bit muddy but goes almost immediately up hill from the parking lot at 1l00 feet to the high point of the day, Buford Mountain at 1740. the 4th highest hill in Missouri. The trail is steep but also very rocky. Just the type of rocks that you are always going to turn your ankles the whole way, it is just a case of being as careful as possible. 
 You see evidence of an old boundary wall about half way up and lots of great granite outcroppings every where.

















at the top of the initial uphill, which takes about 1.5 miles of uphill you reach Buford Mountain. Like most high points in the state other than Bell, there are really no great views. 

 With the winter leaves off the trees you can get some views beyond the tree line. The granite outcropping are nice, especially with the long shadows of early morning sun.


 The path leading up to the summit was a path of soft moss. 

Leaving the summit, the trail does a series of small roller coaster ups and downs as it follow the ridge you are now on, but the trail is surprisingly nice to walk on. No big rocks and the ground is soft

Reaching the split for the loop. This trail is actually more like a lollipop than a loop. I chose right to hit the high points first. 


 an intermediate overlook along the way. 

The sign at the beginning of the trail clearly indicates no motorized vehicles (below) yet someone has brought a large tracker (above)over the entire trail not only rutting out badly in the muddy parts but the trail is twice as wide as one needs for a foot path.... 
Another small up and down along the ridge and we reach Bald Knob, the 16th highest point in Missouri but the spot with the best views along this trail. This would be great place to come and hang and stargaze this coming Spring. 
A view from the top. You can see a long way, including Bell, Goggins, Proffit, Wildcat and Taum Sauk Mountains in the distance. 

 Down from Bald Knob there is a stock pond, one of four around the loop

A very steep uphill takes you to an unnamed peak at 1613 feet 
 Then you take a 2 mile decent of 600 feet into the valley behind the mountains with a creek. Most trails in Missouri are designed this way. A loop that has a high point, but also always goes through a creek area with water.

In this case because of the light snow and the warmer temperatures the creek and the trail have become one for about a half mile. 


 I am never sure how you would have gotten cars back here, especially in the 20's and 30's but you find lots of Model A car parts around the woods in this part of Missouri.

I did finally see a few people on the trail today and one of them (Lee) told me he did some rock art along the trail. I found it half way up the uphill from the Creek. You have to go the same 900 feet in 2 miles going back up the other side of the loop! 

Then you see the same trail as you started with just shy of Bald Knob down to the parking lot, although since it was now 68F degrees the trail had become a bit more muddy. 

It is a challenging trail and I am glad that I found it and did it. I will certainly be back and I might even spend the night on top as most people hike up to Bald Knob and then return to the car. 

It took just over 4 hours, which included lots of stopping for pictures and video to complete the 10 mile hike. 



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