BEST AREAS FOR WILDERNESS CAMPING
MARK TWAIN NATIONAL FOREST
1,500,000 acres. Consisting of nine separate units in the southern part of the state, this enormous National Forest encompasses the Ozarks, the St. Francis Mountains, and the mountains of southwest Missouri.
Terrain ranges from foothills to steep and rugged ridges, with limestone bluffs, rock formations, and caves. Also here are oak-hickory forests with pine and red cedar, and open meadows.
There are some lakes and ponds, plus a number of streams and rivers, including the Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River. White-tailed deer, bobcat, coyote, and wild turkey are among the wildlife
The National Forest has seven designated wilderness areas adding up to over 63,000 acres, including the 16,300-acre Irish Wilderness, the
12,300-acre Hercules Glades Wilderness, the 9,020-acre Bell Mountain Wilderness, and the 8,120-acre Piney Creek Wilderness.
Activities: Backpacking and hiking are available on hundreds of miles of trails. Included are 200 miles of the Ozark Trail (see entry page 191), the 38-mile Ridge Runner Trail, and the 21-mile circular Cedar Creek Trail.
Other trails have been designated for horseback riding, including the 25-mile Blue Ridge Horse Trail and the 22-mile Victory Horse Trail. Some trails are open to mountain biking, but bikes aren’t allowed in wilderness areas.
Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting are possible on some of the rivers and streams. Canoes may be rented nearby. Fishing is also available, and hunting is permitted in season.
Camping Regulations: Camping and campfires are allowed throughout the National Forest, except near public use areas or where otherwise prohibited. No permits are necessary.
For Further Information: Mark Twain National Forest, 401 Fairgrounds Road, Rolla, MO 65401; (314)364-4621.