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Great Finds! Brazil Creek Recreation Area 3/21-3/23/2014

April 1, 2014

2014-03-22 10.14.39We were getting out to the forest for the weekend, and I wanted to get back to a place that I hadn’t fully checked out yet. The first time that I had been to the Brazil Creek Recreation Area was just about a month earlier with both of my kids and Max, the adventure dog. We hadn’t had a lot of time to check out the place, and I wanted to go back and stay there a night or two. Due to some ill-timed social events, I gave my teenage son the opportunity to back out of this trip, and spend time with his friends at the movies that Friday evening. I was a little disappointed, but I am focusing on letting him have enriching experiences that don’t have to involve me and the forest (all the time), as in when something like the “Divergent” movie is opening and all his friends are going. The silver lining was that I was going to get to camp with my daughter Sophia, and we would get to have some important one on one time, hanging out in the woods.

2014-03-22 08.31.47The Brazil Creek Recreation Area is located in the Potosi District of the Mark Twain National Forest. It is one of the trailheads for the Berryman Trail, and is what seems to be basically a little roadside park off of Hwy W, in the northwest corner of the district. It is flanked along one edge by Brazil Creek, which must be crossed in order to get to the trail. The Berryman Trail is a 24 mile hiking loop, which also passes through the Berryman Recreation Area, and shares some of its length with the Courtois Section of the Ozark Trail. Turns out it is a popular trail for mountain bikers, horse enthusiasts, as well as backpackers.

2014-03-22 10.11.27How to get there:

From St. Louis, take Highway 21 south about 60 miles, to Potosi. Turn right (west) on Highway 8, and travel for about 16 miles until you hit Forest Road 2266. Now, the directions on their website will tell you that it is also known as County Road 207, but you may find that there is no road sign easily seen. The biggest indicator that you need to make a right, after your 16 miles on Highway 8, is that on the left side of the road is a sign for the Berryman Recreation Area. This is your turn. So make a right on Forest Road 2266, and stay on that for about 4 miles. You will come to a wide fork in the road. This is Forest Road 2265, however I don’t remember a sign stating that. The one sign that you will see in front of you, on the opposite side of the fork, says Floyd Tower. Make a left onto Floyd Tower (2265). After another 3 miles of twisty gravel road, you will come to an intersection which is the most prominent so far, that is sort of at the top of a hill. This is Highway W, and you want to turn right (east) and head down the hill and around the curve to the left. Just after you cross the bridge, the Brazil Creek Recreation Area is on your left.

2014-03-23 08.16.54Why I like this area:

There are no designated campsites, and there are NO camping or firewood FEES. Pull into the park, pick a spot, and spend the weekend! Sure, there are no bathroom facilities or running water, but what you pay for in primitiveness is made up for in freedom and self reliance.

Brazil Creek right nearby has stock water for drinking (use a filtration system or boil it, obviously), and I bet it is a fun spot to play in the warmer months.

The Berryman Trail nearby is a great opportunity to get some hiking in and experience some pine covered Ozark hills and countryside.

2014-03-22 10.12.31What you need to know:

Again, there are no bathroom facilities or running water. If you don’t have a way of filtering your water, make sure to bring what you need with you. The closest gas station isn’t just a drive down the block. And if you haven’t yet reached the point where it is a pleasant, natural experience to poop outside in the forest, there are vault toilets over at the Berryman Recreation Area, which you most likely passed on your way here.

2014-03-22 16.46.09There are also no trash cans or dumpster. Make sure to bring an extra trash bag so that you can double bag your garbage for the ride home.

The directions can seem a little sketchy, but as long as you don’t turn off onto some jeep trail, you should make it pretty easily. Bring a map just in case.

Turns out that this is apparently a popular trail with a lot of outdoor enthusiasts, and it might get to be a busy spot on the weekends. When we were there it was getting close to freezing for the overnight lows, so it definitely wasn’t a peak season, but be prepared for neighbors, and be neighborly.

2014-03-22 11.02.58I’m putting this place in my mental file of  “Great Finds”. In the middle of March, we got the isolation of a backwoods camping trip (excluding the occasional vehicle on Highway W), and I can imagine that it will be a fun spot in the summer when we can spend time playing in the creek. All in all, the most special thing about this trip was getting to be there with Sophia, who is now a pro at starting a campfire with a wooden match AND flint and magnesium! (It’s all about the training and task delegation.)


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