Points of Interest:
• Explore the rugged and scenic canyon-like shut-ins of Rocky Creek.
• See the rugged and remote igneous glades and woodlands that make up the ancient mountain.
• Try wade and bank fishing of an extremely scenic small Ozark stream.
Natural History: Mill Mountain is a rugged igneous knob formed of rhyolite that rises 400 feet above Rocky Creek at its base. The natural area contains igneous glades and associated dry woodlands and cliffs on steep, rocky northwest facing slopes. A talus slope of rhyolite boulders and cobbles is found on the south facing slopes of Mill Mountain below a large glade complex. Stunted and gnarled post oak, blackjack oak, and black hickory dominate the dry woodlands with scattered shortleaf pines. Mill Mountain itself is a remnant of a 1.5 billion year old volcanic mountain range that is at the core of the Ozarks’ geologic structure.
Rocky Creek passes through a scenic shut-ins at the base of Mill Mountain here. Shut-ins occur where a broader stream is “shut in” to a narrow canyon-like valley. Shut-ins typically occur in Missouri where streams flow through softer sedimentary bedrock materials such as dolomite or sandstone and then encounter the more resistant igneous rock. Two and a half miles upstream from the Mill Mountain Shut-Ins are Rocky Falls and Shut-Ins (a part of Stegall Mountain Natural Area) and 0.75 mile downstream is the historic Klepzig Mill. All of these features are accessible from the Current River Section of the Ozark Trail (see: http://www.ozarktrail.com or call 573-436-0540).
Klepzig Mill was built by Walter Klepzig, son of a Prussian German immigrant, in 1928. Klepzig was a progressive thinker and the first in his neighborhood to introduce both barbed and woven fence wire. The sounds of wood being sawn or corn being ground would have echoed through this valley just over 80 years ago. Today just the sounds of Rocky Creek and wildlife fill the air.
Rocky Creek is a clear Ozark stream that supports at least 10 native fishes, including the colorful bleeding shiner and rainbow darter as well as longear sunfish, a nice panfish. Rocky Creek drains into the Current River, a globally important river because of its biological diversity and cool, spring-fed waters. Besides harboring 35 global priority aquatic species, the Current River provides an excellent fishery for goggle-eye (or shadow bass), sunfish, and smallmouth bass.
From Eminence travel east on Highway 106 for about 7.5 miles. Turn right (south) on to Highway H and travel for 4 miles to the intersection with Highway NN. Go left (east) onto Highway NN and travel for almost 3 miles. Right before crossing Rocky Creek turn right (south) to the gravel road and pull-off. Park here and look for Ozark Trail signs. The Ozark Trail hiking trail crosses Rocky Creek here and heads north toward the natural area. It is a half-mile hike heading north on the Ozark Trail from the Rocky Creek Highway NN bridge to the natural area. Bring a map and compass for exploration. Hunting and fishing are permitted.