Welcome to a new series here on Ozark Mountain Overland, which like most of the topics we review, has nothing to do with actual overlanding! Hopefully this is a series that doesn’t have too many posts, and you’ll see why. “Shut up!” you scream. Let’s get to it!
So as you read in the title, this adventure is NOT APPROVED. I cannot stress enough, we do NOT APPROVE THIS ADVENTURE. WE WOULD HATE IT IF YOU DID THIS ADVENTURE. IT’S BAD. DO NOT DO THIS ADVENTURE, OK, GET IT? YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS ADVENTURE. I’M DEFINITELY NOT ENCOURAGING YOU TO GO HERE.
For this particular adventure, I’m actually not sure how illegal this is. I didn’t see any “No Trespassing” signs or purple paint. It would also be hella hard to actually get caught going here.
In Ozark, this is a fairly popular spot, I think? If you describe it to someone, they probably know what you’re talking about, I’m not sure how many people actually know where it is or how to get there.
So where is “there”? Between Ozark and Branson on Route 65, more specifically between Ozark and Saddlebrook on Route 65, and even more specifically between Ozark and Busiek State Forest on Route 65 is a road and housing development named “Woods Fork”. What’s its deal! You ask. Well, I’m not completely sure, and I can’t find much information online, so here’s what I know.
When you look on Google Earth, Woods Fork Road has existed for a while, as far back in imagery as you can go (1996). It intersects Rt 65 West-East. There were a couple of houses off the road at that point, but not much. The road is located in a valley between two mountains, and crosses the Woods Fork creek. Still with me here? Good.
Buckskin Ridge Road runs north from Woods Fork Road, up to the top of the mountain. There are a few cul de sacs up there, all cut out into the woods. Buckskin Ridge Road was the beginning of the original Woods Fork housing development plan, and was construction started on it in 2006. That wasn’t a great time to be starting massive upscale housing developments, and all the roads for the Woods Fork subdivision were built, but sat without houses until 2016.. When one house was finally built. Also, fun note, they built a huge Hollywood style sign on the side of the mountain that you can still see from the highway today.
It’s hard to keep track of the many different “phases” that were planned for Woods Fork, but I’m not completely sure how important these are for our place. Basically, at some point in the late late 90’s, when the development was most likely in its early stages, someone decided that Woods Fork should have a community center/clubhouse, as most upscale neighborhoods have.
Like I said, it’s hard to keep track of all the phases the development went through so it’s hard to pin down exactly when and why the building was ever started. It was built in 1996, and beyond that, I have no concrete (ha, building pun) information.
So let’s get into it, what is this place??
Located in the middle of the woods, you can reach the clubhouse by parking at the west cul de sac of Buckskin Ridge Road and heading down a track. The track leads to an opening that looks like it was either a dumpsite or site for a house. From here, there’s an overgrown trail that heads east through a brief treeline. When you get out of the trees, the clubhouse will be immediately to your right. If it’s dark, it may be hard to see at first.
So, go and look around. It’s a pretty cool/interesting place I think. As for what’s inside, it’s mostly empty. There’s a white folding table inside with two chairs at it, where some sort of hostage deal probably went down at some point.
Also in the main room is a cool bar. At some point, there was also a cool mirror. The mirror decided that it would rather be on the floor. Stupid ass mirror.
Remarkably, the structure is in great shape and despite being completely exposed to the elements appears to be very sound. This main floor has some windows on the backside. You can tell there used to be glass in each one, but every single window in the entire building is broken out now.
On the main floor, the ceiling is open all the way to the roof, with some exposed beams. At one side of the room against a wall, is a cool balcony that was probably made for very fancy people to drink wine on while laughing at everyone below them.
Behind that wall is the staircase, as well as a hallway with some smaller rooms. The staircase is a cool spiral one, like what you’d see in a castle. Up takes you to the balcony, down takes you to the first floor.
The first floor is really just a few small rooms that are built with logs and plaster, like real log cabins. This is weird, but cool.
Behind the rooms is a balcony that overlooks some more trees. Really the first floor is just a big covered deck.
If you walk out from the first floor on the east side you can find a trail that takes you along the side and then behind the house, leading to this big bridge, which is also very weird! Still cool.
The bridge is probably a hundred feet long and crosses a small ravine. At its tallest, it’s probably 30 feet above the ground. Unlike the house, the bridge has not aged quite as well. There are some missing planks and exposed nails throughout.
The track there and back out is roughly a quarter of a mile long, and pretty steep in places. Here’s a pretty bad picture of it.
That’s really all there is here. Pictures, especially ones taken in the dark, don’t do it justice. A trip here is what you make it. Walking through the woods to an abandoned cabin lookin thing gets your adrenaline going a bit!
On the night that we went, there was plenty to keep us on edge. From the moment we parked, to while we were exploring, there were gunshots from somewhere in the woods. They weren’t very loud at all, either several miles away or from what could possibly be an indoor shooting range at the only house located up on Buckskin Ridge. Howling coyotes also provide an especially eerie feel.
I did notice though on our drive up, there are several new houses being constructed nearby. This is a nice, secluded area, and the land is probably cheap since it’s sat for so long. The one house on Buckskin Ridge was just completed last year. There’s definitely about to be more people living nearby, meaning that this place could be torn down or have access cut off by new development. I can’t say that would be a shame? It’s been there a while. People don’t like living near abandoned stuff that attracts teenagers. Stupid teenagers.
Anyways, a visit here is definitely more about the adventure than the location. We had a good trip here. I can’t recommend you go here. Go find somewhere legal and safe, you stupid teenagers!
Not to worry, on Wednesday we'll be back to our regularly scheduled overlanding coverage.