First off, nobody but bikers divides the Trace Creek section of the Ozark Trail in two. As far as the OTA is concerned, it's just Trace Creek. It doesn't matter, but we usually think of the section North of the Council Bluffs connector as North Trace and South as South Trace. It does make sense in a way because the trails feel different and not too many of us do day trips that involve both.
Second, the connector to C-B is a mess thanks to a bottomland trail put underwater by some enterprising beaver dam construction. It's short anyway, and you can avoid it if needed.
Anyway, a recon team of three hit the South Trace last weekend. We parked at the Middle Fork DD/32 trailhead and rode until our turnaround time and rode back. South Trace Creek is clearly one of the gems that makes the Council Bluffs area the quadruple crown of Mark Twain National Forest mountain biking, with well over sixty miles of singletrack ridable from one place -- in three directions from a really nice campground! I can totally see why two friends of mine had their bachelor parties on this trail. It's better than pole dancers and shower scenes, and the only thing you'll need any ones for is if you rip a tire!
North Trace is singlespeed central. So are council bluffs and middle fork. South Trace SS would be a real challenge if you don't put an easy gear on. I liked it just fine with gears, especially with the leaves and logs. South Trace is more technical than North and goes up and down steeper hills steeper, if that makes sense. There is a lot of cool scenery and creek valleys to ride in and out of and lots of exposed rock. Between the OTA and its adopt-a-trail program it's signed well enough to follow if you're careful when you cross the fire and logging roads. We weren't careful enough. Remember, two markers on a tree or one marker angled sideways usually indicate a turn.
OK, I mentioned the logs. Right now there are tons of logs across the trail. That needs fixing to make this as fun as the other three and Berryman. Many of the logs have been cleaned up with the handsaws so they're not hard to walk over, or if your name is Randini you could hop a lot of them, but it gets old. GORC just got six members certified to run chainsaws in the MTNF so we're trying to set a date for a sawyer run after the festival to put it right. Look for something in late April or May. We'll need help, and we'll NEED to ride it unburdened the next day. It's gonna be sweet.
OTA's hi-res maps of TC
Our little gallery from Saturday (it was a riding day, not a picture-taking day)