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story.lead_photo.caption lt NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Devil's Kitchen Trail winds 1.5 miles past bluffs, boulders and forest at Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Mo.

Need a little heat? Step into the kitchen. Devil's Kitchen Trail, that is.

Even on a chilly day, hiking this 1.5-mile loop can be a sweaty adventure up and over a Razorback ridge at Roaring River State Park. Devil's Kitchen is one of the more challenging trails that wind through the park south of Cassville, Mo.

Not that every step is uphill, but the hike involves one lung buster climb that rates a 7 or 8 on the wheezer scale. It'd be a high dollar work out on a stair machine at the gym.

Deep breathing in crisp autumn air and rugged Ozarks scenery are served up in generous portions along Devil's Kitchen.

We've settled into a nice routine on visits to Roaring River during the catch and release trout season, which opened Nov. 9. Fish a few hours in the morning, then trade the fly rod for a hiking stick and hit the trail around lunch time. After the hike, it's back to fishing.

Hit the trail at an information kiosk across the road from the trout hatchery. A little warm-up climb starts right away, and leads to a fork in the trail. Hang a right at the fork for the recommended counter-clockwise hike around the loop.

Here the path levels off and visits an line bluff shelters and rocky areas worth some exploring. Hikers pass a small cave off to the right across a little creek.

Pretty soon the trail makes a hard U-turn and follows the top of the bluffs passed earlier. Then, loosen that coat zipper or buttons a bit for the ascent to the ridgetop. Easy does it and before long you'll see the summit. The trail goes up and over the ridge, then it's down, down, down to the bluff and rock garden.

Hiking Devil's Kitchen stokes one's internal furnace, burns a bunch of calories and brings on an appetite. The bluffs and boulders seen downhill from the climb make natural seating for a trailside lunch. Or, picnic tables are situated all over the park.

Kids and kids at heart will love climbing around on these rocks and peeking into every nook and crevice. The rest of the hike is a cake walk, with nice views of the park, back to the trailhead.

Looking for an easier hike? The River Trail may be the perfect route.

This out and back path starts at the stone lodge building near the trout hatchery. River Trail makes an easy climb above Roaring River and follows it for about 0.7 miles. Turn back around where the trail ends at a highway bridge for an out and back trek just shy of 1.5 miles.

Rock formations and up-high views of the trout stream are attractions along the River Trail.

It'd be easy to hike Devil's Kitchen and River Trail on the same trip and still get in a lot of trout fishing.

We usually fish for another hour or two after hiking, unless the trout are really biting like they were opening day of catch and release season.

It's tough to leave those eager trout and lovely trails, but catch and release season runs into February and the trails are open year-round at Roaring River State Park.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com

Sports on 12/04/2018

Print Headline: Devil's Kitchen serves up trail treats

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