The Ruby Jack Trail is a 16 mile multi-use rail trail, starting in Carthage, Missouri in the east and finishing at the Kansas State line in the west. It’s mostly flat, and connects the towns of Carthage, Oronogo, and Carl Junction. It’s mostly tree-lined, making it cooler in summer as the tree canopy forms a shady green tunnel, and a windbreak as well. It is quite nice in the fall with the changing colors. It goes past open fields with wildflowers, wetland, and farmland with nice views year-round. Spring peepers and birdsong are abundant in spring. There are a few bridges over quiet streams Including a trestle over Center Creek, west of the Hwy 43 underpass. The trail is usually quiet and wildlife sightings are common.
The trail surface is smooth crushed limestone, suitable for any bike, or wheeled vehicle: scooter, stroller, bike trailer, except maybe thin tired road bikes. The road crossings are likewise quiet until reaching Hwy 171 near mile 12 in Carl Junction. People choose to detour around this crossing and the adjacent railroad tracks by going north on CR 270, west on Ivy Road, then south on Grimes St. (about 0.9 mile total) to reconnect to the trail.
The trail continues west through the center of Carl Junction past the Community Center. From there, you can go south on Main St. then east on Allen St. to connect to the short (1.4 mile) Thom Station trail featuring a 400 ft bridge over Center Creek.
The Ruby Jack continues west 1 mile through Carl Junction to reach CR JJ. West from here the last two miles to the Kansas border are yet to be developed, so the existing surface is a railroad rock bed and is quite difficult to ride.
The Ruby Jack trail actually gets its name from the mineral ‘ruby jack,’ a type of zinc ore (sphalerite) with ruby colored crystals, mined in the local area in days past.