Skaggs Cave – Pulaski County, Missouri
The Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy owns Skaggs Cave, which is more than a mile long. The 5,895-foot cave is located in the rugged Ozark terrain of Pulaski County in central Missouri. Well known in caving circles for several decades, Skaggs’ rimstone terrace graced the frontispiece of J Harlen Bretz’s book Caves of Missouri published in 1956.
A Classic Long Cave
Skaggs is a classic long cave with lots of walking passage, but also has its share of crawl ways, especially if you want to see the cave all the way to its terminus. Besides its complement of impressive speleothems, the cave is also a sanctuary for many species of cave biota including some impressive isopods in its stream. Isopods are simple crustacea that have several pairs of legs and are related to the pillbug (roly-poly bug). The isopods in Skaggs Cave can be as long as one inch and are blind, white and very much at home in the dark, wet cave environment.
The Infamous Harlen’s Puzzle
Not far past the entrance passage is the infamous Harlen’s Puzzle, a braidwork maze of crawl ways that if correctly negotiated, will enable the visitor to find the majority of the cave beyond as well as the relief of finding the cave exit on the way out! A trail was created in the entrance section ahead of Harlen’s Puzzle to protect the clay floor from turning into a boot print quagmire. The trail begins at the trail sign as a line of concrete blocks, and then becomes a rock-lined path leading to the entrance to Harlen’s Puzzle. The only other manmade objects in the cave are a few flags to caution visitors and help them avoid stepping in the stream where isopods live.