Hike and Float on The Ozark Trail Courtois Section

Rate this Adventure Onondaga Trailhead

12.6 mile hike through rolling hills, a night camping next to the beautiful Courtois River, and 12 mile float back to your vehicle.

Starting from the Onondaga trail head of the Ozark Trail, this 12.6 mile backpacking trip and 12 mile float can be completed in two full days, or stretched into three days if you want to take a more casual pace. There is plentiful water, and several good camping spots along the trail, and of course at the campground, whichever you may choose. Check out the free map of this trail on the Ozark Trail website.

Day 1:

Start at the Onondaga trail head. There is parking (across the road from the trail head) with room for 2 or 3 vehicles. If the lot is full, you can continue down the road about a 1/4 mile and park at Ozark Outdoors Resort. Make sure to check in with the staff if you do so they don't tow your vehicle!

Once you hit the trial, the first 4.5 miles is a nice meandering walk though hardwood and pine forests. The trail is well marked but does cross, and at times follow, several old forestry roads. Make sure to be on the lookout for OT signs to ensure you don't get lost.

Around the 4.5 mile mark you'll descend down to the banks of the Courtois River, and continue for about half a mile with the river on your left, and towering bluffs on your right. 

Around the 5 mile mark you'll emerge from the trail into a campground. Continue straight through the campground. At the far end of the campground you'll see OT signs guiding your way down a short wooded path, and running you straight into the Courtois River.

Time to get your feet wet and cross the river! The river is fairly shallow at this point (mid-shin high), but after a heavy rain could be much higher and in-passable. Be cautious! OT signs are visible on the far side of the river, head for them.

After crossing the river continue on along the bluffs making sure to stop and check out "The Bat Cave" just after the crossing. Around mile 8 there's a beautiful overlook of the Huzzah Valley that's a must see as well. 

Round out your 12.6 miles, and arrive at Bass River Resort for a peaceful night of camping. They even sell pizza and beer, which is a nice treat after your adventures of the day!

Day 2:

Rent a canoe or kayak from Bass, and float 12 miles back to your vehicle at the Onondaga Trail head. Expect the float to take 3-5 hours, depending on how much you pull off and stop. Your river takeout will be at Ozark Outdoors Resort, from which you can easily walk back to your vehicle. 

Tip: It's best to setup the camping and floating with Bass ahead of time to ensure you get a campsite and canoe rental. They can be very busy in the summer months. Also, let them know your plans for the hike and float back to your car. They're familiar with OT hikers, and can be helpful with your planning.

Pack List

  • Backpack (min 60L)
  • 2 person backpacking tent or hammock 
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag
  • Flip flops or water shoes (for river crossing and float)
  • Towel or rag to dry off
  • Swim suit (if you go in the summer)
  • Water filtration system
  • Cash to buy goodies at the campground
  • 10 essentials
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RT Distance 24.6 Miles
Activities Canoeing, Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Dog Friendly
Swimming Hole


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