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.)
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 the Wilderness Area.