Rural Missouri - January 2020 - 43
by Zach Smith | email@example.com
he trek started 30 years ago with boots on
the ground and a camera in his backpack.
Somewhere along the way, the Ozark Trail
got into Don Massey's blood.
A retired landscape designer by trade, Don
documents the Ozark Trail. One hundred photos
of the trail - known as the OT among faithful
travelers - taken over those three decades form
the basis of his book: "The Ozark Trail: Images of
Missouri's Longest Hiking Trail." All of the images
were shot on ﬁlm, and all but one were taken with
large- and medium-format cameras. The larger
negative allows for greater detail in the resulting
image. His ﬁlm adds contrast and saturation.
"Taking pictures makes you appreciate something because you captured it," Don says, "and if
you're doing a good enough job, you can show that
to somebody and help them appreciate it, too."
Despite capturing the trail's scenic beauty, Don
never intended for the book, which was designed
by his wife, Maggie, to rest on a coffee table.
Instead, he hopes it ﬁnds a comfortable place
in the car or pack, a well-worn companion on a
trail-goer's next or new adventure.
Hikers and horseback riders have long known
the virtues of the OT. In recent years that reputation of solitude, beauty and physical challenge is
extending to the mountain biking and trail running communities, which host annual endurance
events on the OT. The completion this year of a
30-mile spur connecting Brushy Creek to Round
Spring - traveling through Current River and
Echo Bluff state parks plus the Ozark National
Scenic Riverways - throws paddling into the mix.
Supporting the mission of expansion is a cadre
of roughly 250 volunteers, collectively part of the
Ozark Trail Association, or OTA. The nonproﬁt
organization, which boasts more than 11,000
Facebook followers, works with land managers
including private owners and public agencies to
perform maintenance and construction on the
trail. Over the years those efforts have slowly
linked and expanded the OT into a 401-mile odyssey showcasing the Show-Me State. As connections continue, the OTA, like Don, strives to make
people aware of the trail and support its upkeep.
" 'How do we connect?' is the question across
the board," says Kathie Brennan, president of the
OTA. "It's connecting people with something that
makes them feel good, enough that may go out
even one time and experience it."
The OTA's volunteers are blazing ahead with
lofty goals. One of these is to make a 25-mile connection between the Eleven Point and North Fork
sections. Another is to extend the trail eastward,
via the Meramec River, to Paciﬁc and Eureka.
Long-range plans would connect the OT's southern terminus - Collins Ridge Trailhead - to the
Ozark Highland Trail in Arkansas. Once the golden spike is driven near North Fork Lake more than
700 miles of trails will be provided across the two
states. OT volunteers Ron and Rosie Koskovich
say the expansion carries economic beneﬁts to the
surrounding communities when trail users need
to purchase gasoline, supplies and equipment.
"That's something the OTA really tries to promote," Rosie says. "They want to make small
towns aware of the impact the trail has to rural
For users, from the riders and runners to the
thru-hikers and day trippers, the OT offers unlimited outdoor opportunities.
"I think the majority of people want to be closer
to nature," Don says. "There's no technology to
overcome, no money to spend, and it's pleasing.
People need that, and the trail
gives them a reason to get their
feet on the ground."
For more information or to
order Don's book, visit www.
ozarkphoto.com. For more
information on or to volunteer
or donate to the Ozark Trail
Association, visit www.
Left: The Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail travels along
Johnson's Shut-Ins. Don captured this image of the shut-ins after a winter snowfall. Top: Don Massey spent three decades
documenting a love of the OT in his book, seen above.
JANUARY 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Rural Missouri - January 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2020
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