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The 9,143-acre Bell Mountain Wilderness is part of the St. Francois Mountains, one of the oldest landforms in North America. This is mostly old-growth, oak and hickory forest, with pine and elm, grassy glades, and granite outcroppings. The rugged 12-mile Bell Mountain Trail (rated More Difficult) is recommended for experienced hikers only. Steep slopes are encountered throughout the area. Elevations on the trail range from 1,702 feet, at the peak of Bell Mountain, to 970 feet at the base, in the area of Joe's Creek. Groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people, to help protect wilderness values.
Horses are allowed; no motorized/mechanical transportation allowed. No camping within 100 feet of trails and water.
Shut-in Creek, a year-round, spring-fed stream, crosses this area; there are several shut-ins along its path.
The U.S. Congress designated the Bell Mountain Wilderness in 1980.
ALERT: Feral hogs are degrading the natural habitat within the Bell Mountain Wilderness. The Missouri Conservation Department asks all hunters who encounter a feral hog to shoot it on sight.
Two crucial rules: 1> Do Not Carry in Your Own Firewood! (Moving firewood around the country spreads forest pests like the Emerald Ash Borer and Gypsy Moth.) 2> On and near any waterway, glass containers and glass bottles of any kind, and all foam-type food and beverage coolers are prohibited by Missouri law.
Note: the address and phone shown are for the Mark Twain National Forest office responsible for this wilderness area; however, the map pointer indicates the approximate location of this Wilderness Area.
A long, narrow ridge—known to early settlers as The Devils Backbone—is the main attraction in this 6,687-acre Wilderness. Elevations reach from 1,020 feet at the highest point to 680 at the lowest. Thirteen miles of trails (rated Moderate) follow the Backbone (and four other ridges), dropping off into surrounding forested hollows. Horses are allowed; no motorized/mechanical transportation allowed.
The area is ideal for day-hikes and overnight backpacking. Four trailheads offer good entry points. Three springs in the area flow into the North Fork of the White River, which transits the area. On the northern boundary are campsites and a canoe launch. Do not build rock fire rings.
The U.S. Congress designated the Devils Backbone Wilderness in 1980. Check the area’s website for details, a map, and restrictions.
The 12,413 acres of Hercules-Glades Wilderness encompass some of the most scenic and unique landscape in the Midwest. The area is crisscrossed by 32 miles of maintained trails (rated More Difficult to Most Difficult); additionally, off-trail, cross-country hiking is allowed. No camping is allowed within 100 feet of an established trail, stream, body of water, cave, rock shelter, and other occupied campsites. Do not build rock fire rings. Horses are allowed; motorized and mechanical transportation is not allowed.
Long Creek Falls affords panoramic views of the Ozarks. The sparsely marked trails include steep terrain, stream crossings, and elevations from 600 feet to 1,200 feet.
The U.S. Congress designated the Hercules-Glades Wilderness in 1976. Check the area’s website for details, a map, and restrictions.
Slightly more than 7,035 acres of hardwood forest, steep cliffs, streams, caves and rocky outcroppings make up Paddy Creek Wilderness. There are 18 miles of trails, with elevation changes of 500 feet. Signs and trail marking are minimal; the use of a map and a compass is highly suggested.
Group size is limited to 10 persons. No camping is allowed within 100 feet of an established trail, stream, body of water, cave, rock shelter, and other occupied campsites. Do not build rock fire rings. Horses are allowed; motorized and mechanical transportation is not allowed.
The U.S. Congress designated the Paddy Creek Wilderness in 1983. Check the area’s website for details, a map, and restrictions.
Piney Creek Wilderness occupies 8,178 acres, with numerous springs and waterways. The ridge-tops rise more than 400 feet above hollows.
The major east-west trail follows Piney Creek for approximately four miles. From Pineview Tower Trailhead, two paths of approximately 1.5 miles each lead south to Piney Creek; two other foot and horse trails leave the main trail to head south for a grand total of 13.1 miles of trails (rated Moderate), portions of which utilize old logging roads. The use of maps and a compass is recommended.
The U.S. Congress designated the Piney Creek Wilderness in 1980. Check the area’s website for details, a map, and restrictions.
An ancient circle of granite rocks, erected by early man, marks Missouri’s smallest Wilderness area. The 4,238-acre Rockpile Mountain Wilderness is primarily a broken ridge, with steep limestone bluffs, rock formations, and caves along the St. Francis River.
From the trailhead there is a two-mile section of maintained trail which is often steep (rated Moderate), where elevations range from about 1,300 feet to 520 feet. The rest of the area is accessed by old roads and by cross-country hiking. The area is within the St. Francois Mountains.
No camping is allowed within 100 feet of an established trail, stream, body of water, cave, rock shelter, and other occupied campsites. Do not build rock fire rings. Horses are allowed; motorized and mechanical transportation is not allowed.
The U.S. Congress designated the Rockpile Mountain Wilderness in 1980. Check the area’s website for details, a map, and restrictions.
In the mid-1800s, Father John Hogan (an Irish priest) lead a group of Irish immigrants to this area, desiring to escape oppression in St. Louis. During the Civil War, Union and Confederate soldiers raided the settlement. After the war, Father Hogan and his group had mysteriously disappeared; nothing remains.
Encompassing 16,277 acres of dense forest and undulating topography, The Irish is Missouri's largest Wilderness Area, where outdoor enthusiasts find hiking and backpacking opportunities and primitive camping. You’ll find sinkholes; streams that disappear below ground only to reappear downstream; bluffs; and breathtaking views of the Eleven Point River.
From the Camp Five Pond Trailhead, the Whites Creek Trail (rated moderate) weaves its way through hardwood forest, dry creek beds, springs, glades, grasslands and hillsides for a distance of 18.6 miles to the Eleven Point River. Along the Eleven Point you will find Whites Creek Cave. Horses are permitted. Motorized/mechanized vehicles are not allowed. At Camp Five Pond Trailhead there is a picnic area and a vault toilet. Check the area’s website for details, a map, and restrictions.
The U.S. Congress designated the Irish Wilderness in 1984. (Note: In 1968, a 44.4-mile portion of the Eleven Point River was one of eight U.S. rivers originally listed in the National Wild and Scenic River System.)
Note: the address and phone shown are for the Mark Twain National Forest office responsible for this wilderness area; however, the map pointer indicates the approximate location of the Wilderness Area.
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