A Trek Up ‘Taum Sauk’ Mountain

Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri, is accessed via a short trail. Or, you can take the long route to the top.

Last week, as a part of our ‘1 Million Steps’ project with KEEN, hiker and active Air Force meteorologist Joe Witschy climbed the 1,772-foot Taum Sauk during a 30-mile backpacking trip.

He went solo and managed to time the trip with a heat wave. “It hit over 100 degrees in the area,” Witschy said.

Durand boots on the top of Taum Sauk

Witschy started the trek at 8a.m. on a Tuesday and hiked all day to reach a camp. “The trail was brutal,” he said. “Up and down constantly, with tons of elevation change.”

He tested the same pair of KEEN Durand boots we’ve been hiking in all summer. As a part of the ’1 Million Steps’ project this pair has seen more than 300 miles of rugged abuse.

More than 55 miles put on the KEEN boots on rugged trails over a week

Witschy noted the boots were still in “almost new” condition, despite the miles.

One of the laces is starting to fray but the fit and function was solid, Witschy said. “There were a few times I would have twisted my ankle without the boots.”

Stream test on the trail

A highlight of the hike was Mina Sauk Falls, which is Missouri’s tallest waterfall. He tested the boots’ waterproofness in the stream.

“I stood up to the top of the boots and let the water try and soak through… no luck, they are very waterproof!”

In addition to Taum Sauk, Witschy hiked for a day at nearby Castlewood State Park. In total, he put 55.2 miles — 116,583 total steps — on the Durands over a few days in the Ozarks.

Next, the boots head east. New Hampshire and the White Mountains are in their future, where the Durands will be used to backpack and climb with another KEEN “test pilot” helping us on our quest to hit 1 million total steps by the end of the month.

Topo map revealing elevation near the summit of Taum Sauk
Taum Sauk is in the Ozark Mountains
Witchy halfway through the hike
KEEN Durand boots on the top

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.