By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 10/27/17

Last weekend I had the pleasure of riding down to Missouri to join a group of friends to ride and camp for a few days around the Mark Twain National Forest.

If a place can be underrated for adventure motorcycling, this is that place. It has many well maintained twisty roads with ample elevation changes. While it is not The Tail of the Dragon, it is pretty close. It also certainly has less traffic, so you can get more out of it.  Even on a Saturday afternoon, you might only run into a few other people.

We based our routes on a combination of provided GPX files from ADVRIDER.COM legends and Midwestern stalwarts, Cannonshot and Loose Nut.

We loaded GPS routes from both the CannonRide and The Loose Nut Dual Sport Ride on to our phones and sort of just cherry picked our way between lunch, gas, and campgrounds using whatever route seemed fun and generally in the direction we wanted to go. The CannonRide seemed to target excellent paved sections, while the Loose Nut Dual Sport Ride got us in the dirt and even into some forested single track with rocky ascents and descents. Our trip consisted of a fantastic combination of surfaces throughout the day. Everything from single track rocky riverbeds to wide open freshly paved state hwy. Which satisfied everybody needs in our group.

We had a range of bikes so it was essentially that the riding gave everybody there time to shine. Myself on my BMW F800gs and the others in the group riding two DR650’s, a Triumph Tiger 800 XCX, a KTM 990 Adventure Baja, and a Yamaha Super Tenere.

We also specifically targeted a dip in the beautiful waters of The Jack Fork River to freshen up.

The first night we camped in an less than maintained National Forest Campground. With 50 some odd campsites available, it was us and one other camper. The RV crowd in need of electric ready sites dominates the campground scene, so if you are willing to go non-electric, you can find yourself some welcomed solitude.

After a full day of riding trails and forest service roads, we set up camp the second night in the Red Bluff Campground near Davisville. We basically had the place to ourselves.

Sunday morning I hightailed it home. There was impending rain and a very chilly day ahead of us. I felt like just getting the travel portion out of the way.

Door to door it’s about a four and a half hour ride from my house.

The Mark Twain National Forest offers the perfect Midwestern escape for those seeking a long weekend in an adventurous setting. There are beautiful rivers, vistas, caves, and forests there. When you add in the historical backdrop that Jesse James and his gang used to roam these areas as well, it isn’t hard to find that adventurous spirit.

I left the area with nothing but great things to say about the riding, wilderness, the diversity, and the community and I will certainly be back again.

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