who enjoy observing, studying and photographing
wildflowers and wildlife will not be disappointed
by the vast variety of each that can be discovered
on these trails. The Forest has about 320
species of birds, 75 species of mammals and 125
species of amphibians and reptiles. You're also
likely to see whitetail deer, turkey, quail, woodcocks,
doves, ducks, geese, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels,
opossums, woodchucks, bobcats, and coyotes.
The forest gets a variety of visitors through the
year including spring and fall, when color changes
the forest. Hiking In the spring, you'll see serviceberry,
redbuds and dogwoods paint the winter landscape
in pinks and whites. If you love to hike In the
fall, starting mid September, the oak hickory forest
transforms from greens to yellows, peaches, reds,
burgundies and dark purples. The height of fall
color is usually mid-October
Below you will find the recreation areas within
the Mark Twain National Forest in the St. Francois
Mountain Region of the Ozarks. Directions
to the recreation areas follow each description.
Named after Missouri native, Mark Twain, the Mark
Twain National Forest is one of the most popular
areas for hiking or biking in Missouri. These
trails and recreation areas are directed and controlled
by the USDA Forest Service. Some
provide camping opportunities. For
more information on camping and permits, please
see the USDA Forest Service website here.
Bicycles and mountain bikes
are generally permitted on trails but may be prohibited,
such as in designated wilderness areas.
Motorized vehicles may be used only on open Forest
roads or designated ATV trails.
following wilderness and recreational areas in our
region are located within the Mark Twain National
in Bell Mountain Wilderness Area and
rugged wilderness was named for the highest peak
in the area, Bell Mountain (elevation: 1702) and
was designated by the United States Congress in
1980 as a federally protected and preserved area
which “generally appears to have been affected
primarily by the forces of nature with the imprint
of man’s work substantially unnoticeable…”
Popular for experienced hikers and equestrians,
there are 9027 acres with tall peaks, Shut-in Creek
and a spring-fed stream with several gorges along
its course. Gnarled blackjack and post oak,
black hickory, and a few winged elms are found in
the harsh environment of the granite glades within
the Wilderness. Pileated woodpeckers, wood
thrush and ovenbirds are abundant. White tailed
deer, wild turkeys and squirrels can be found.
are 14 miles of designated trails established for
hikers and equestrian use within the wilderness.
Bell Mountain Wilderness Trail,
is concurrent with a section of the Ozark
Trail for about one mile, then splits and turns
northward to the summit of Bell Mountain peak.
Joe’s creek cuts deeply into the west slope
of Bell Mountain; clefts and boulders form the basic
landscape. The area is rugged and suitable for experienced
hikers only. Be prepared with adequate supplies
and water. A separate two-mile trail begins
on the east and leads to the top of Lindsey Mountain.
hunting is allowed within this federally designated
Located at State Route A & 32.
in Sutton Bluff Recreation Area
Bluff is named for R. G. Sutton, who settled this
valley in Reynolds County along the west fork of
the Black River in 1888. Three generations
of Suttons farmed the river bottoms below the impressive
bluff (see right). Sutton Bluff is a wonderful place
for hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, swimming
and bird watching. The Black River curls around
the 35 campsites that are available
and the Ozark
Trail passes nearby. Water and toilet
facilities are also available at Sutton Bluff Campground.
Located between Lesterville and Centerville, MO
off of Highway 21. Enter Forest Road 2233 at the
Forest Service sign, turn there and go 7 miles,
then turn on Forest Road 2236. The campground is
another 3 miles.
Crane Lake Conservation Area and Trails
This clear blue 100 acre lake was
formed by impounding Crane Pond Creek with an earth
fill dam at the upstream end of a “shut-ins”
or narrow gorge cut in the granite bedrock.
Picnic along the lakeshore, fish from the gentle
banks, canoe the waters and hike the coves.
Fish for largemouth bass, channel catfish and panfish.
Crane Lake is one of the most beautiful small lakes
in the area with a 12 mile hiking and biking trail
around the lake, picnic areas, and great fishing.
Crane Lake (North loop) and Crane Pond (south
loop) trails are peaceful. The south loop trail
connects to the Marble Creek Section of the Ozark
Trail. Hiking Hwy E to Crane Pond Lake Road.
14 miles from 21 and 221 in Arcadia via 21 South,
"E" East and County Road 131
Marble Creek Recreation Area and Trail
Visit the peaceful
oasis of Marble Creek Recreation Area where you
can relax among the deposits of pink dolamite native
to the St. Francois Mountain range. Swim in an the
old mill pool where the creek that now rushes 20
miles through the rugged mountains, was once harnessed
to power an old grist mill. A reminder of the past,
the concrete remains of the grist mill dam and building
foundation, although crumbling, are still visible.
Prior to 1935, the colored dolamites were mined
as "Taum Sauk Marble" used in the building
trades. Enjoy picnicking or go wade-fishing for
smallmouth bass and panfish. Go hiking, biking or
horseback riding! The trailhead for the Marble Creek
Section of the Ozark
Trail is here, beginning an 8-mile trek leading
to Crane Lake. From
Highway 221 and 21, go south on 21 then turn east
at Hwy E and travel for 15.5 miles.
Council Bluff Lake Recreation Area and Trail
The largest lake in the Mark Twain National Forest
serves anglers, campers, picnickers, hikers, bicyclists
and swimmers. Fish year round in this 440
acre lake stocked with large mouth bass, redear
sunfish, bluegill, crappie and catfish. Picnic
or swim at the 54,000 sq. foot sand beach.
At Chapel Hill Beach there is a concession stand,
changing rooms, flush toilet, water fountains and
showers. There is also a small play area near
the beach. Additionally, there are canoes
and paddle boats available for rent when the beach
is open. Council
Bluff Trail is a 12-mile loop along the lake shore
providing hiking and mountain biking opportunities.
The Trace Creek section of the Ozark
Trail is located just west of the recreation
area. Waterfowl hunting is permitted on the
lake and there are upland game opportunities as
well. 24.5 miles From Hwy 21 and 221 - Go
west on Hwy 32, turn left at MO-C, turn left at
MO-JJ, then slight right at Council Bluff Rd/CR-635.
If beginning on Highway 49 in Reynolds County, turn
right on Hwy 32, then left at MO-DD, take right
on MO-C, then right at MO-JJ to Council Bluff Rd.
Silver Mines Recreation Area and Trail
Back in the 1920s this area was mined for silver
and tungsten ore. Although long since played
out, the remnants of two old abandoned mines are
present at the site. Located on the banks
of the St. Francis River, Silver Mines is near Millstream
Gardens where whitewater enthusiasts from around
the world bring their kayaks to enjoy the challenges
of the river in March, during spring high water.
There is a one-mile long trail along each side of
the river. From Turkey Creek Picnic Area, a 1.2
mile trail to the north leads to Millstream Garden
Conservation Area, managed by the Missouri Department
of Conservation. Camping is also available
at Silver Mines. From Ironton take Hwy 72 east to
Hwy D. Go about 3 miles south on D to paved Forest
Road 2510. You'll see the Forest Service sign.
"A two-fold wildlife goal of Mark
Twain National Forest is to maintain viable populations
of all species while also affording a medley of
activities that will allow humans to enjoy them
-- everything from hunting and fishing to wildlife
viewing and photography." USDA Forest Service