Ozark National Scenic Riverways seeks public input on Roads & Trails Management Plan - Potential key connections on Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System

Ozark National Scenic Riverways - Missouri's most extensive National Park - has released a draft roads and trails management plan that is open for public input. 

You may recall that ONSR is currently a major impediment, but with updates to its trail plan could become a key link, in the 280+ mile Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System.

ONSR has never allowed mountain biking on any of its trails.  The previous draft proposed opening a good number of trails to mountain biking, which is a positive.  But key links in the potential 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System were not included. 

If those links are not included,  it means a lengthy detour on busy, fast-moving state highways for the Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System in order to bypass ONSR. That is, obviously, not ideal.

The draft plans have just been released this morning, so we have not had time to analyze them carefully. But please look them over, let the National Park Service know that you support mountain biking in ONSR, and also let them know that you strongly support a complete, continuous Ozark Trail Mountain Bike connection through ONSR.

Greetings from Ozark National Scenic Riverways!

The National Park Service is seeking public input on the park’s draft Roads and Trails Management Plan (Draft Plan), which is available for review and comment on June 18 at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=56591

The Draft Plan includes detailed maps and an environmental assessment illustrating a No-Action Alternative and two Action Alternatives. The No-Action Alternative reflects a continuation of current management practices, as established in the 2014 General Management Plan. The two Action Alternatives were informed by public and stakeholder feedback gathered earlier in the planning process and represent alternative approaches for addressing issues identified in the plan, while also meeting desired conditions for managing the park’s roads and trails. The National Park Service has identified Alternative B as the preferred alternative for implementation.

Superintendent Jason Lott states, “With the release of the draft Roads and Trails Management Plan, we are in the final phase of a complex planning process. The Roads and Trails Management Plan will establish a network of roads and trails that is clearly mapped, more sustainable, and that will allow visitors to safely enjoy the park’s spectacular resources through a variety of recreational activities, while still protecting those resources for future generations.”

An online “StoryMap” that provides a helpful overview of the Draft Plan and the corresponding maps will be available beginning June 18 at  https://arcg.is/1Oja9b.

For those who prefer to review printed copies of the Draft Plan, they will be made available for review at the public libraries in several local communities, including: Van Buren, Birch Tree, Mountain View, Summersville, Salem, Ellington, Ellsinore, Doniphan, Poplar Bluff and Rolla. The Draft Plan will also be available at park headquarters in Van Buren, located at 404 Watercress Drive, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The public comment period for the Draft Plan will be open from June 18 to July 18. The comments will be analyzed to determine if there are any adjustments needed and then an alternative will be selected for implementation.  The public is encouraged to download and review the plan and provide comments online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=56591. Comments will also be accepted through the mail to:

Ozark National Scenic Riverways
P. O. Box 490
Van Buren, Missouri 63965

The map above shows the complete, potential 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System. 

  • Purple indicates Ozark Trail segments where mountain biking is allowed.
  • Red indicates Ozark Trail segments where mountain biking is not allowed. 
  • Blue indicates forest roads & county gravel roads that can partially connect across Ozark Trail segments where mountain biking isn't allowed.
  • Green indicates the sections within ONSR that are needed to complete the system.

MoBikeFed has worked with local partners in the region to create a draft/concept Ozark Trail Mountain Bike/Backpacking Route Network that incorporates the 280 mile section shown here as well has hundreds of addition miles in the area.  Though currently still in draft, with some sections completely checked out, some partially checked, and others still in draft stage, the route as a whole is very much usable by adventurous travelers.

If you examine the loop that includes the 280-mile Ozark Trail section, you will see that we have found a way to bypass the ONSR trails that are closed to mountain biking (look at the portion near Eminence and and Ellington).  However--the bypass is circuituous and includes many miles on MO 109 between and State Hwy H. This is by far the longest paved stretch in the entire 280-mile section, and has by far the highest traffic counts.


The Ozark Trail Mountain Bike/Bikepacking Network is one of the main opportunities right now in Missouri to create a major bikepacking and mountain biking network that covers a large portion of the state.

Helping create major cross-state routes of this sort helps us meet one of the four major objectives in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri - creating a world-class statewide bicycle and pedestrian system.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality!