If you and your pooch find yourselves looking for a pretty place to stretch your legs in the Greenville, MO area, you’d be barking mad not to check out the Johnson Tract Trail! This beautiful five-mile loop winds its way for about five miles through the majestic Missouri Ozarks, taking in interesting and diverse scenery along the way. You’ll find a trailhead at Greenville, near the north end of Wappapello Lake, and there’s plenty of parking at Greenville Recreation area, with a couple of campsites dotted around the preserve.
The Johnson Tract is an ideal hike for pups and people looking for a longer ramble that can still be comfortably completed in an afternoon. The route doesn’t exactly run through unspoiled wilderness, but the path does have its charms -- trees spring up from old homesteads reclaimed by the woods, with cedar fences and stone walls remaining as evidence of earlier habitation. If kind-of eerie reminders of man- and dog-kind’s impermanence in the face of nature aren’t your thing, don’t worry; even if the woodland isn’t pristine, there’s still plenty of natural wonder to behold. Though the trail itself stays mostly dry, it does pass by some interesting wetland areas, as well as along parts of the St. Francis River. If you can, visit in late spring, when the wildflowers burst into bloom.
While the elevation gains on this trail are rated as moderate, the terrain can be pretty rough in places -- you’ll need to watch out for rocky patches and exposed roots, so this might not be the best option for older furry friends who can’t quite move like they used to. In terms of facilities, you’ll find restrooms at the entrance to Greenville Recreation Area and primitive toilets at the campsites. The two main safety concerns are bugs and hunters -- any wetland area will attract some buzzy, bitey critters, and you’ll need to take precautions during deer and turkey season. As always, be sure to bring waste bags and water!