West Fork (West Branch) FSR 509

Total Miles
2.7

Elevation

418.69 ft

Duration

1.25 Hours

Technical Rating

5

Moderate

Best Time

Spring, Fall, Summer, Winter

Trail Overview

The West Fork FSR 509 is a trail branching off the Glade Top National Forest Scenic Byway, traversing through some of the most thrilling trails Mark Twain National Forest offers. The trail has great depth including 2+ foot ruts, tight trees, heavy mud hole sections, water collection holes, 2-foot deep creek crossings, 6" to 18" rock ledges, potentially off-camber, all over a mix of dirt, coarse gravel, and small rock base throughout. Some of the hard sections have bypasses but overall the difficulty still remains the same to pass the whole trail. The trail requires 4X4, great traction control, high clearances, and extended flex to safely accomplish, spotting outlines may be required and are advised. This trail is best approached with some former offroading experience and not alone.

Photos of West Fork (West Branch) FSR 509

West Fork (West Branch) FSR 509
West Fork (West Branch) FSR 509
West Fork (West Branch) FSR 509

Difficulty

There is a little bit of everything on this trail, rock, ledges, water crossings, heavy mud, ruts, and loose gravel the ruts are very off-camber and will flex and tilt a vehicle to its limits, throw tight trees and bead-popping rocks to the edge of the trail and you are limited to crossing it with few options of passage. It's a challenge.

History

The Glade Top Trail is a Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC] built road which was designated a Scenic Byway in 1989. Portions of Forest Roads 147, 149, and 150 comprise the trail. The trail follows a series of ridgetops through the central glade area of the White River Hills. The Glade Top Trail is little changed from the original road constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. For twenty-three miles, the two-lane, all-weather gravel road follows narrow ridge tops rising approximately 500 feet above the surrounding rolling countryside and overlooks and passes through many limestone/dolomite glades interspersed with open and closed woodlands. Sourced from the USDA website.

Technical Rating

5

Status Reports

Chris Menz
Nov 26, 2023
1999 Jeep Cherokee
Open
Normal
Great conditions to be at Glade Top. Water crossings and water holes are currently low, which makes the true muddy spots more obvious.

Access Description

From the roundabout outside of Branson Landing, at 36.63487, -93.21338, head north on Missouri-76 for 12 miles, turn right at the roundabout onto US Route-160 going east for 3 miles, then make a hard right to stay on US-160 continuing east for 15.3 miles, at the triangle intersection stay left and get onto Missouri-125 headed north for 4.4 miles to the entrance of the Glade Top (Sky Line Drive) FSR 149, at 36.66013, -92.85181. Immediately turn right when passed the Glade Top Forestry sign, you are now on the trail.

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