This 5-miler begins from the Visitor Center through a hardwood forest, crosses busy Sparrow Springs Road, then disappears back into the woods. You’re in for another mile and a half of mellow climbing along the western flank of Crowders Mountain. At the Backside Trail, the hike gets serious. A steep climb finally gives in to stairs: within four-tenths of a mile you’ll gain 360 vertical feet.


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