Loop Scenic Drive Tour
On Back County Roads
What You'll See - The
difference between our Culp Loop Tour and all other back country roads is that the Culp
Loop is a mixture of both private and forest service property. Unlike the other back
country roads you'll see a mixture of open Ozark hill views, meadows, farms, and little
historic sites. The Culp Loop Tour is also fabulous for fall foliage and spring redbuds
and dogwoods. There are several spots on public land where you can stop for a walk, to
bird, etc. You'll see plenty of wildflowers.
Food & Gas - Closest gas and snacks are
at Point 38,
which is about 6.5 miles down Hwy 341 from Point 35.
This little store is open 7am to 5pm (winter) or 6pm (Summer) Monday - Friday, Saturdays
8am to 5pm, closed Sundays. You can drive from either Point 35
or Point 36
to Point 11
to get to Calico Rock, which is a little over 18 miles away.
The Routes - There are two back country
roads on the Culp Loop Tour - CR-74 and CR-73 - connected by Hwy 341. Start at Point 35,
or Point 11.
We recommend starting at Point
35. At Culp CR-74 and CR-75 intersect so direction does not matter. If you
start at Point 36
just remember to reverse right and left because we describe the tour as if you started at Point 35.
City Rock Extension - You
can access the Culp Loop Tour from Point 11 by going past City Rock Bluff. And of course you can go from
Culp to City Rock Bluff, and on to Point 10 at Calico Rock.
Road Names - If you go
from Point 36 to Point 11 (or visa versa), it's all the same road, but there are
several names for this one road. It is called Culp Road, Sugarloaf Road, and FSR 1105.
Because this road runs through two counties - Baxter and Izard - it has two different
county road numbers. On the Baxter County side it is CR- 73. On the Izard side it is
CR-53. Then CR-74 is also known as McCowan Road and FSR 1103. No worries, we keep it
all organized for you here.
How Long Is It? - Going by
our map the Culp Loop Tour starts at Point 35
on Hwy 341, follows CR-74 to Culp where it intersects with CR-73, which you then follow
out to Hwy 341 and join the main tour loop again at Point 36. Total
distance is 16 miles. If you drive it without
stopping it takes a little over an hour. Top speed on these roads will be 20mph, with
average speed around 10 to 15mph. Yes, the locals will blow by you at 40mph but they have
driven these roads all their lives. They know every curve, and know how to drive in loose
dirt. Don't try it - it takes practice!
How To Treat Locals - The
cardinal rule is don't mess with gates and fences. Don't go on private property without
permission. What makes locals angry more than anything else is people who open livestock
gates and don't close them. Chasing loose livestock around in this country is no fun. All
the locals we have met in here are extremely friendly and helpful. Show them a little
respect and consideration and they'll be a ton of fun. Finally, if you want to stop,
please pull to the side of the road, or pull off, so others can get around you. And don't
be alarmed if locals pull up and ask if everything is okay. It's normal for them to make
sure you don't need help. Working people live on this road, and like the rest of us, they
can be late for work from time to time. Stay out of their way and they'll be happy.
Sometimes the old-timer farmers have time to talk, other times they don't. It depends on
what's going on at the farm.
Following The Tour
What's On CR 74 - This is the remote
section. It also has the best Ozark hill views. You'll see old homesteads from 125 years
ago, run through stretches of classic Ozark hardwood forests, and tracts of tall pine
trees. You'll see active hillside cattle farms. CR 74 is one of the best spring and fall
roads we've found. It is a mixture of private and public property. There are several spots
you can stop on public property.
Finding CR-74 - At Point
35 on Hwy 341, look for CR-74 on your right. It's just a dirt road coming out
of the woods. The only sign is the little blue Baxter 74 sign. The road is wide enough for
vehicles coming the other way to easily go by. The road surface tends to have a wash-board
surface, but it is not rough, just noisy in places. It's 9 miles from Point 35
to Culp. CR-74 is also known as McCowan Road and FSR 1101.
On The Way To Culp - For the
first two miles you'll be driving through classic Ozark hardwood forest. At about 1.3
miles you come to a saddle in the road. This spot is shown on some maps as Caroline Gap.
Not far after this you break out into hill pastures which are still in use. This is the
McCowan farm, still owned and operated by the McCowan Family, the settlers this road is
named for. Years ago we met Mr. Jeff McCowan in this spot who was 94 at the time. He was
extremely fun and interesting to talk to. His sons still operate the farm today, like Jeff
did after his father passed. You'll continue along the top of this ridge enjoying Ozark
hill views over pastures. At 5.8 miles you come to the intersection of CR-74 and the north
end of CR-75 (aka FSR 1101). (CR-75 is the most remote of all back country roads on our
map. CR-75 is the connecting road between our Culp Loop Tour and the Forest Loop.) At this
intersection some maps will show the road between here and Culp as FSR 1103. In another
3.2 miles you'll come to the intersection at Culp where CR-74 meets CR-73. You'll know
you're getting close to Culp when you come to a long straight stretch of sandy road lined
by tall pines. We always stop here to bird for a few minutes and to listen to the wind in
the pines, one of our favorite Nature sounds. At the end of this stretch you'll get a good
view of Sugar Loaf Hill that's near Point 11 on our
map. This view point shows on maps as Pretty Hill. The road heads down and you soon come
to the intersection of CR-74 and CR-73.
Intersection At Culp - You'll know you are
at Culp when you come to a white house with a tiny creek flowing past it. This is the
intersection of CR-74 and CR-73. Turn left to continue the Point 11 Culp
Loop Tour. Turn right to go to City Rock Bluff and Point 11. From
here it is 5 miles to Point 11 at Hwy
What's On CR 73 - A historic spring, two
historic little school houses from the 1880's, settler cemeteries, three Ozark creeks, and
the historic little mill settlement called Culp. Not much is there, and that's the
beauty of it. CR 73 also is very pretty in spring and fall foliage. It is not as hilly and
remote as CR-74 where you just came from. The road is wider and has more traffic.
Now Following CR-73:
Culp - This is the half-way
point on the tour. Just 0.2 miles past the intersection of CR 73 and CR 74 you come to
Mill Creek and Bethal Springs Menonnite Church. This tiny little white church has been
here for a long time. Across the road is a much larger building, which is a bible school.
This whole area, shown as Culp on maps, is an old mill settlement from the early 1900s
era. The mill itself burned a long time ago.
Table Rock Church -
Another 1.5 miles down CR 73 you'll come to a sign on your left at CR-127 for Table Rock
Community Building, established in 1889. This was a school and church back in the late
1800s. Turn in and go see the old building, it's about 100 yards in. It now serves as a
community building, and as an official voting polling spot. You'll see the long cement
tables next to the cemetery under tall pine trees. An old road runs between the building
and cemetery and goes down to a creek. This area is the head waters of Mill Creek
back at Culp.
Harris Cemetery - Another
1.9 miles down CR 73 you'll come to Sneed Creek bridge. At this creek bridge is Harris
Graveyard on your left. These little cemeteries are found all through the Sylamore area.
They are all mostly family graveyards with several generations, usually with fewer than 40
graves. Right after Sneed Creek you'll see CR 124 on your right which dead ends on private
property along the White River.
Cold Water School House -
A mile further up the road you'll cross Cold Water Creek and then come to historic Cold
Water School House, which is on private property and not open to the public. The area was
once known as McPhearson, a small farming settlement active in the late 1800s. The school
house is all that is left. The school was in active use until the 1960's. The white
building with the tin roof is the school.
Cold Water Spring -
One-tenth of a mile further you come to Cold Water Spring. You have to look hard to see
it. It does not look like much, but it was a life-saver more than once for settlers. There
is a small white horizontal PVC pipe sticking out of the ground at near ground level.
Flowing out of it is water coming from deep underground. Over the last 120 years this
little trickle of water was sometimes the only water available. During droughts settlers
came from miles around to collect water for themselves and their livestock. While the
spring has never gone dry that anyone can remember, it has slowed down in the last 20
years. Deep wells are drawing down the huge aquifers filled with glacier melt water from
10,000 years ago.
Early American Ozark Life
- At this point you've seen farms, churches, schools, a mill sight, and a cemetery - all
of which made up an early American farm culture in the Ozarks. If you want to see what
their daily life was like, pay a visit to the Ozark Folk Center where you'll enjoy live demonstrations what these
hill folk did to settle and survive here.
Point 36 End Tour - From
the spring the road crosses through farmland and hillside views for another 2 miles, then
you come to Point 36 at Hwy 341.
Running Tour Backwards? If
you came in from Point 11 past City Rock Bluff, have come to Point
36 at Hwy 341, and
wish to continue the Culp Loop Tour, turn left (south) onto Hwy 341. Go about 2.5 miles
and look for CR 74 (aka McGowan Road, FSR-1101) at the top of the hill on your left. For
details on this leg of the Culp Loop Tour, see Point 35.
Culp Loop Tour Starting At City Rock Bluff
City Rock Bluff - Starting
at Point 11 follow the directions to get to City Rock Bluff.
Then, from the City Rock Bluff parking lot, continue on past City Rock Bluff away (west)
from Hwy 5. At this point you are still in Stone County, so the road carries the Stone
County Road Number of CR-53. At 0.7 miles down CR 53 you'll hit the Stone/Baxter county
line, where the road squeezes between two large rocks. You'll see the county line
signs here. Once you pass the rocks you are now on Baxter County Road 73 (CR-73), which on
most maps still shows as Culp Road, or FSR 1105, or Sugarloaf Road. Only the CR number
Creeks - As you drive along
CR-73 you'll see several other roads branching off CR 73, but stay on CR 73. Most of the
branch roads dead end. At 0.4 miles from City Rock you'll come to where two creeks flow
together - both are named Jack's Creek. About 1.5 miles further you'll cross a bridge over
another creek (Cataract Creek) next to an old abandoned cement block store building.
Arrive At Culp - At 2.5
miles from City Rock you come to the intersection of CR 73 and CR 74. A white house next
to a little creek is at this intersection. If you turn left up the hill onto CR 74, you
come to CR 75 in 3.2 miles. If you stay on CR 74 you'll come out at Point
35 in 9 miles. To continue the Culp
Loop Tour stay straight and follow the directions given above from Culp.
|Culp Loop Tour Mileage
|From Point 11 at Hwy 5 to City
Rock Bluff - 2.4 miles
|From City Rock Bluff to the
intersection of Baxter CR 73 and CR 74 at Culp - 2.5 miles
|From Culp to Point 36 on Hwy 341
via CR 73 - 6.8 miles
|From Culp to Point 35 on Hwy 341
via CR 74 - 9 miles
|From Point 11(Hwy 5) to Point 36
(Hwy341) through Culp via CR 73 - 16.5 miles
|To Junction of CR-75 and CR-74
From Culp - 3.2 miles
|To Junction of CR-75 and CR 74
From Point 35 - 5.8 miles
|From Point 36 to Point 11going
through Culp - 16.5 miles
|To North End of CR 75 From
Culp - 3.2 miles
|To North End of CR 75 From
Point 35 - 5.8 miles
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