Scenic highways in the area
You could easily argue that virtually all roads in the Clearwater Lake vicinity are scenic. But some are more scenic than others, or have a special twist.
Highway AA between Piedmont and Bluff View has some overlooks of the Black River Valley above the lake that are downright spectacular.
Route HH between the dam and Highway 21 puts you one-on-one with Ozark cattle country, while Route K from Ellington to Annapolis puts you in the midst of Ozark woodland.
For dogwood time, there is probably no prettier road in the state than Highway 143 between Des Arc and Sam A. Baker State Park. A string of mountains to the south create a backdrop for the dogwoods and redbuds that dot the land.
Summer isnt necessarily the best season for taking in the beauty of the highways. The special hues of early spring are special, and at this time of year the woods are so open you can see through to scenes you dont know exist in the summer.
Of course autumn is a special time too. Autumn starts early here. Gums and ivys are showy before the October peak, while sumac persists after the oaks and maples have shed their leaves.
Winter has a special charm, especially when we get snow but the roads are clear. Winter skies are sometimes gray, but often deep blue. Take a ride.
How far is it around the lake?
In case you wondered, the drive around Clearwater Lake measures in at 75.1 miles.
Suppose you come to Clearwater to swim and water ski, but forget to put the sun screen on soon enough. Suppose you come to fish, but limit out too soon. What to do?
Well, you can do some touring. Shortest route around the lake is 75.1 miles, so with side trips and stops along the way, you wont feel like youve been in the car all day.
To go around the lake, start at the dam and go to Piedmont, on Route HH. thats 5.6 miles. You may want to side-trip back to Piedmont Park Recreation Area and River Roads on your way to town.
At the north end of Piedmont, Highway 49 splits to the left. Route AA is .8 miles up this highway. Take this side trip to see the Bluff View Area.
From the junction of 49 and AA, it is 5.4 miles to Gads Hill, site of Jesse James first train robbery - today a rock quarry.
Then it is 12.1 miles to Annapolis - the big factory there is reducing a mountain to roofing granules. Turn onto Route K at Annapolis.
Five miles west is Route K Recreation Area, a part of the Clearwater Lake Project, but on Black River above the lake. Continue on Route K to Ellington, 20.5 miles.
A side trip at Ellington might include Owls Bend on Current River, 13 miles west on Highway 106.
From Ellington, go south on Highway 21 for 2.6 miles to Route H. Take this road to Webb Creek Recreation Area, the major access to Clearwater on the western side of the lake.
Returning on Route H, look for a blacktop road that goes south - the Little Doe Run short-cut to Route HH. If you miss it, simply return to Highway 21 and go a little further south to Route HH.
Route HH takes you back to the dam.
By taking the side trips, you will have driven about 150 miles, and if you take your time, get out to look at interesting points, shop, picnic or dine out, youll have spent the better part of the day at a relaxing pace.
And you wont aggravate that sunburn!