Ravines sink abruptly at LaBarque Creek. It must be due to the way the bedrock is layered, hard rock atop soft. The little streams must reach a soft layer, cut through it until it hits a hard layer, then widen the resulting ravine by meandering back and forth across the harder rock flooring the ravine.

The result is a series of quite dramatic, steep walled miniature canyons. They aren't terribly deep--their steep rock walls only reach thirty or forty feet above the ravine floors--but they're still unexpected, and a pleasant surprise.

The trail passes along two such ravines, in both cases running along the top of the steep rock slope that separates the ravine floor and the gentler slopes that rise above to the ridgetops. I did get off the trail and down into one, and it was an interesting spot: lots of sign that deer move through the bottom of the ravine, and very little evidence of human use (a bit of barbed wire was all).

Much of the surprise in the Ozarks comes from such interaction between water and the underlying geology. Although water is the same everywhere, more or less, the geology can vary in just a few miles. Farther down the LaBarque Creek watershed at Young Conservation Area, I didn't see anything like the small canyons at LaBarque Creek.

Little surprises--the small beauties of an individual place--are one of the top two or three reasons to explore the Ozarks. Almost every place has at least one such place. Sometimes it isn't obvious, and sometimes it's off the trail, but it's usually there.

You may have to check around for directions, or wander around a bit, or push through some brush, but like a man once said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."