A few k-9 thoughts on Five Star Trails: The Ozarks


“I’m ready to hit the trail!”

“You wanna pick it up there, Tater?” That’s what I’m thinking when I turn to see my guardian (trail name Tater) stopping and talking into his little box. If the tripod comes out with that other little box on it, then I’m really in trouble because we’re probably not going anywhere for a while!”               ~ Hiker-dog

That’s Hiker-dog’s take on our experience of writing Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. Standing silently behind my tripod, I sometimes wondered what she was thinking, head tilted in curiosity.

She may have been frustrated by my slow and careful progress down the trails, but she loved exploring some of my favorites. Most were new to her since our friendship was relatively recent when we began this work.


Hiker-dog’s first overnighter with me in the Ozarks after regaining her health.

She adopted me at mile 138 of the Ozark Highlands Trail, and our friendship has grown around a shared love for hiking trails. The many hours spent together collecting data for the writing of this book deepened our friendship. We shared some great outdoor adventures and beautiful views along the way.

5-Star Ozarks cover

When the book cover photo was selected, I was thrilled. “Cover girl” is an appropriate way to celebrate this tenacious Lab’s journey from starvation and abandonment to health and a special place in our family.

It’s probably a good thing Hiker-dog can’t read, or she’d expect a salary beyond food, shelter, and veterinary care. She’s loved by the many Ozark hikers who’ve met her on the trail. Google “Hiker-dog” and she’ll pop right up. She even has her own signed bookmark to share with fellow hikers.


Shhhh…Don’t tell her that some trails don’t allow dogs. She hiked all but six that didn’t allow pets.

Working with the team of professionals at Menasha Ridge Press has been a joy at every step. We’ve worked hard on this book, but it has been creative and rewarding work! I’m proud of Five Star Trails: The Ozarks and know this is going to be a tool for those seeking the best trails in the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri for years to come!

A few trail scouting photos from our work on Five Star Trails: The Ozarks


Morning sun peeking through the natural bridge in the Marinoni Scenic Area, Arkansas Ozarks


A rainy hike on Long Creek in the Hercules Wilderness Area, Missouri Ozarks

Elephant Rocks 5_Hiker-dog at trailhead.jpg

Leashed and ready to see some Elephant Rocks in Missouri!


Taking a break on a bluff overlooking the Ozarks

Hiker on Hawksbille Cragr

A leashed Hiker-dog and Jim Warnock on Hawksbill Crag (photo by Eric Scowden)

To read more about Hiker-dog:

Hiker’s First Year 

What Makes Hiker a Good Trail Partner 

3 thoughts on “A few k-9 thoughts on Five Star Trails: The Ozarks

  1. Jim, as as owner of a male black lab that used to hike with me, I love your photos of Hiker. A question I have regarding your book…are most of the trails day hikes or do you include weekend or longer backpacking trails as well?
    Gerry B.

    • That Hiker-dog is pretty photogenic, but it’s hard to catch her standing still. All of the 43 hikes in this guide are day hikes. Some of them would make nice shorter backpack trips, and some of them intersect with longer trails in both states.

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