June 8, 2017
Hikers: Julie and Beck
Day 5 of our Ozark adventure brought us to a fun little 120 acre state park named Elephant Rocks. Although small on acreage, it was big on fun!
The park’s accessible trail is safe for strollers, wheelchairs and even blind hikers. Adventure is available for those wishing climb on the boulders for which the park is named. Trees growing between the rock formations give you a bird’s eye view!
The formation of the elephant rocks began 1.5 billion years ago when cooling magma created the red granite. The upper layers of the granite fractured into giant blocks. Millions of years of erosive forces rounded the blocks into the formations we see today. The rounded boulders sitting atop a bed of the same type granite material is called a tor. Some people see an elephant, I see a giant caterpillar!
This area has a rich mining history and a side trail off the main loop leads to some ruins from before this location became a state park. We found a sign for a trail that we thought we take us to the ruins. Missouri must have some serious hikers if they can do a 4 mile trail in 15 minutes! It wasn’t clear which way to go so we opted to follow the wide path. Took us straight to … the maintenance shed. Ooops. Must need to go the other direction. We followed the narrow, overgrown path until we came to where it dead ended at a pile of mining debris. There were trails shooting off in every direction but none that seemed to go to the ruins. Frustrated, we backtracked to where we had left the paved trail.
After making our way back to the paved Braille Trail, a short walk took us to a clearly marked, paved path to the ruins. Only we could manage to go off trail in a 120 acres park! Mining began in the area in 1869 and continues in places outside the park even today. Missouri red granite is found in buildings, paving stones and even grave markers.
Rocks versus trees.
With it’s small size, it does not take long to see all there is to see at this park. But it is a fun place to spend an afternoon and doing some rock scrambling and boulder hopping!