Any Green Road On Our Map
Running back country roads is a great way to see into
the heart of the Ozark hills. Few areas of the Ozarks have so many good back roads
concentrated in one spot as the Sylamore National Forest.
Please note! All back
country roads are dirt roads. The roads we have chosen are all well maintained, wide
enough for two cars to pass, and you can drive them in a regular automobile. Four-wheel
drive is not needed. These roads can be dusty. After rains there will be mud puddles. We
don't recommend you drive them in vehicles over 35 feet long. Top speed is between 15 to
20 mph. Motorcycles be careful, there is a lot of loose gravel. It is easy to get lost
without a map.
What's Out There? Back
Country roads get you into the forest up close. They're great during fall foliage, and
then again in March and April for redbud and dogwood bloom spotting. These routes are also
great for photographers, and those who want to see what the Ozarks interior looks like.
Almost all the roads are under the forest canopy with some views. The best views are along
the Culp Loop Tour. There are a few small unofficial historical sites that give
you a look at what the Ozark pioneer life was like. It's lot's of fun to run a few of
these roads, before or after visiting the Ozark Folk Center. When you watch the demos at the center you'll
appreciate even more what the pioneers contended with when settling these forests.
How To Find Your Way Around
The Back County Interior
Understanding Road ID Numbers -
"CR" is the abbreviation for County Road. Example: County Road 75 is shown as
CR-75. "FSR" is the abbreviation for "Forest Service Road". Example:
FSR-1101. For brevity the map FSR roads may be shown with just a number, such as 1101. On
signs you will see Forest Service roads expressed with just the "FS" in front of
the road number. Most Forest Service road numbers are four digits long, but not always.
Many of the branch roads look like this: FSR 90179A.
Common Road Names - In addition to having
both a county road number, and a forest service number, most roads have a third name, a
common name. Example: Gunner Pool Road is also FSR 1102, and CR-96. To further confuse the
issue if a road passes through two different counties, which happens, it will have two
different county road numbers. Finally, when looking at various maps for the area, you'll
see even more road names. For example Sugarloaf Road is used on three different roads on
three different maps. No worries! We keep it all clear and straight for you!
Why We Don't Give GPS Points - We learned
the hard way that giving GPS coordinates is a bad thing to do because there is no way to
know what datum system people are using. And most people don't have any idea there are
different datum systems, let alone know which one they are using. Further, under heavy
forest cover, GPS use is frustratingly slow, if it works at all.
Why We Don't Give Precise Mileage - On dirt
roads wheels slip. As a result, wheel slippage over several miles can throw and odometer
off by one or two tenths of a mile. So we just say something like "go about 3
miles". On paved roads we are more precise.
The Top Ten Things You Need To Know About
1. "Back County Interior" refers to the area inside
the main tour loop on paved highways. Any road on our map shown in green is a back
country dirt road.
2. Four roads on the 2Cooleys map are dead-ends leading to
hiking trails: Barkshed, Cripple Turkey, Cole Fork, and Merrill Ridge roads.
3. Eleven roads are looped, which means they are not dead
ends, and they connect with one or more other roads which also are not dead ends. Many of
these loops are connected by short runs on the main paved roads highways. As a result
there are many possible ways to drive looped roads without having to backtrack.
4. At the northern end of the Sylamore National Forest is our
Culp Loop Tour starting at Point 35. This
scenic drive takes you through rural Ozark hill country. It is a combination of public and
private lands.You'll see a mix of heavy forest and wide open hill views. The Culp Loop
Tour is half-way between a main highway scenic drive and a back country interior scenic
drive. It allows you to see a little back country without feeling like you are heading off
5. All of the back country interior roads at the southern end
of the Sylamore National Forest run through remote forested areas where there are very few
houses, typically only one or two houses will be found on any of the roads. Out here you
are on your own!
6. By using the Forest Loop, that round ring thing you see
near the middle of our map, you can access any interior road on our map from any other
interior road without having to back track - except for the four dead-end roads. CR-74
(1101) is the interior road connecting the Culp Loop Tour with the Forest Loop.
7. Notice that running through the heart of the Forest is an
interior road that connects the Culp Loop Tour with the Forest Loop. This is FSR 1101, aka
CR-75. This road is the most remote on our map.
8. Recreation Access. In the Forest Interior are many miles
of hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and horse trails. While there are no actual ATV
trails many of the back country roads are approved for ATV use.
9. Each road has something unique on it. The best way to plan
which road to explore is by what interests you. Visit our Activities Page to see
what there is. Pick an activity and our list shows you the points where you can do it.
Take a close look at the map and you'll see there are many possible ways to go.
10. All of these roads are well maintained dirt roads. In
most spots they are wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other. In most places you
are never more than 25 minutes or less from a main highway. But these are remote roads
with little traffic. Chances are good you will not see more than 5 or 10 vehicles on
interior roads. Before going down any of these roads please read our Back Road Tips
page. Cell phones do not work in most locations in the Forest interior.
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