Mark Twain National Forest

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Mark Twain National Forest
St. Francis River at Silver Mines Recreation Area 2.jpg
A kayaker on the St. Francis River at Silver Mines Recreation Area in the Mark Twain National Forest
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Location Missouri, United States
Nearest city Rolla, MO
Coordinates 37°38′13″N91°05′24″W / 37.637°N 91.09°W / 37.637; -91.09 Coordinates: 37°38′13″N91°05′24″W / 37.637°N 91.09°W / 37.637; -91.09
Area1,491,840 acres (6,037.3 km2) [1]
EstablishedSeptember 23, 1939 [2]
Named for Mark Twain
Governing body U.S. Forest Service
Website Mark Twain National Forest

Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half of Missouri. MTNF was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The MTNF covers 3,068,800 acres (12,419 km2) of which 1,506,100 acres (6,095 km2) is public owned, 78,000 acres (320 km2) of which are Wilderness, and National Scenic River area. MTNF spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri. MTNF is divided into six distinct ranger districts: Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs, Eleven Point, Houston-Rolla, Cedar Creek, Poplar Bluff, Potosi-Fredericktown, and the Salem. The six ranger districts actually comprise nine overall unique tracts of forests. Its headquarters are in Rolla, Missouri.


Some unique features of the Mark Twain include Greer Spring, which is the largest spring on National Forest land and part of the Eleven Point National Scenic River with an average daily flow of 214 million U.S. gallons (810 million liters). [3] The public can also visit the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, which offers views of over 30 miles (48 km) to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. The 350-mile Ozark Trail system winds through much of the National Forest.

The Forest has two trail systems for certain motorized vehicles and bikes, being the Chadwick Motorcycle & ATV Use Area and the Sutton Bluff ATV, UTV, and Motorcycle Trail System. [4] [5]


The Mark Twain National Forest, as we know it today, was created on February 17, 1976. The Mark Twain National forest has a rather unusual history – for it was once known as both the Clark National Forest and the Mark Twain National Forest – both being proclaimed on September 11, 1939.

Map of the National Forest Mtnf map.jpg
Map of the National Forest

In June 1973, the Clark and Mark Twain NF were brought under one headquarters in Rolla and became known as the National forests in Missouri. On February 17, 1976, the forests were combined and renamed the Mark Twain National Forest.

Missouri’s only national forest, The Mark Twain, encompasses roughly 1.5 million acres, mostly within the Ozark Highlands. Located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, the Ozark Highlands are an ancient landscape characterized by large permanent springs, over 5,000 caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized streams. Portions of the Ozarks were never under oceans, nor were the areas glaciated.

In the 1870s, citizens of southern Missouri began an era of extensive logging of the state's native oak, hickory, and pine forests. Lumber mills were commonplace, but by the 1920s they had disappeared, along with much of the state's native forests. Thus, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the MTNF into existence. In March 1933, he also created the Emergency Conservation Work Act, better known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In the area that would later become the Mark Twain National Forest, hundreds of young men at over 50 CCC sites worked at building roads and planting hundreds of acres of pine to preserve and enhance the natural resources of southern Missouri. Many of their contributions can still be visited and enjoyed today including the Rolla Ranger Station Historic District and Winona Ranger Station Historic District. [6] [7]

Wilderness areas


Acres Hectares
Oregon County 104,72142,379
Ripley County 97,43739,431
Iron County 96,04738,869
Carter County 90,64136,681
Reynolds County 89,93336,395
Wayne County 88,37235,763
Shannon County 83,93433,967
Washington County 82,13333,238
Dent County 73,01129,547
Taney County 65,95326,690
Phelps County 65,37926,458
Barry County 55,18722,333
Christian County 52,26021,149
Madison County 51,17020,708
Howell County 50,50420,438
Crawford County 50,04820,254
Texas County 49,58120,065
Butler County 48,49419,625
Douglas County 41,03016,604
Pulaski County 39,17715,854
Ozark County 38,67215,650
Laclede County 30,54212,360
Callaway County 12,4675,045
Stone County 10,3354,182
Sainte Genevieve County 10,2544,150
Wright County 7,1592,897
Boone County 4,1021,660
Bollinger County 1,646666
Saint Francois County 673272

Although it is far from being the largest National Forest in acreage, Mark Twain National Forest is located in more counties than any other. As of September 30, 2007, its 1,490,862 acres (2,329.472 sq mi; 6,033.30 km2) were spread over parts of 29 counties in southern and central Missouri. [8]


Climate data for Mark Twain National Forest
Record high °F (°C)75
Average high °F (°C)42
Average low °F (°C)21
Record low °F (°C)−19
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.1
Average snowfall inches (cm)6.7
Source: [9]

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Flathead National Forest

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George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

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Beaverhead–Deerlodge National Forest

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Chattahoochee–Oconee National Forest

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Irish Wilderness

The Irish Wilderness is a 16,227-acre (66 km2) wilderness area in the U.S. State of Missouri. The U.S. Congress designated it a wilderness in 1984. The Irish Wilderness is located within the Eleven Point Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Alton, Missouri. The Irish Wilderness is one of eight wilderness areas protected and preserved in Missouri.

Black Hills National Forest

Black Hills National Forest is located in southwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming, United States. The forest has an area of over 1.25 million acres (5,066 km²) and is managed by the Forest Service. Forest headquarters are located in Custer, South Dakota. There are local ranger district offices in Custer, Rapid City, and Spearfish in South Dakota, and in Sundance, Wyoming.

Piney Creek Wilderness

The Piney Creek Wilderness is an 8,122-acre (33 km2) wilderness area in Missouri. The United States Congress designated it wilderness in 1980. The Piney Creek Wilderness is located within the Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest, east of Cassville, Missouri. The area is named after Piney Creek, which runs the length of the wilderness area and eventually empties into the James River arm of Table Rock Lake. The Piney Creek Wilderness is one of eight wilderness areas of the Mark Twain National Forest that are protected and preserved in Missouri.

Bell Mountain Wilderness

The United States Congress designated the Bell Mountain Wilderness in 1980. The wilderness area now has a total of 9,027 acres (36.53 km2). Bell Mountain is located within the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest, south of Potosi, Missouri in the United States. The wilderness lies in the Saint Francois Mountains and it was named after its highest point, Bell Mountain. The namesake Bell Mountain has the name of Henry Bell, a pioneer settler. The Bell Mountain Wilderness is one of eight wilderness areas protected and preserved in Missouri. The area is popular for hiking as there are 12 miles (19 km) of trail, including a section of the Ozark Trail.

Hercules Glades Wilderness

The Hercules Glades Wilderness is a 12,314-acre (50 km2) wilderness area in Taney County in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri. The United States Congress designated it a wilderness in 1976, making it the oldest wilderness area in Missouri. It is one of eight wilderness areas in the Mark Twain National Forest and is within the Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs ranger district, about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Branson, Missouri. Hercules Glades Wilderness derives its name from the open limestone glades (balds) that dot its landscape. The high points of Coy Bald and Pilot Knob stand 600 feet above Long Creek and offer splendid views of the drainage. Near the middle of the wilderness area is the main set of waterfalls, though Long Creek has several other smaller waterfalls and cascades along its path.

Paddy Creek Wilderness

The Paddy Creek Wilderness is a 7,019-acre (28.40 km2) wilderness area in the U.S. state of Missouri, United States. The United States Congress designated it wilderness in 1983. Paddy Creek Wilderness is located within the Houston-Rolla Ranger District, of the Mark Twain National Forest, 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Licking, Missouri. It was named for Big and Little Paddy Creeks that run through the area. The Paddy Creek Wilderness is one of eight wilderness areas protected and preserved in Missouri. Big Piney Trail is a 17-mile (27 km) long loop that traverses this wilderness area and is popular among avid backpackers. The 17-mile (27 km) loop trail can be hiked as a 10-mile (16 km) stretch or the 7.5-mile (12.1 km) south section. The trails are rugged and can be challenging for the inexperienced or unprepared hiker. Horseback riding is also common on the Piney Creek Trail. The Paddy Creek Recreation Area is nearby, and offers many camping amenities. There are many single sites, and a few double sites available. There is also fishing access on the Big Piney River, via a trail access from the campground.

Lincoln National Forest

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Ozark National Scenic Riverways

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Ellicott Rock Wilderness

Ellicott Rock Wilderness is managed by the United States Forest Service and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. It was first designated by Congress in 1975 with the Eastern Wilderness Act. The majority of this land lays in South Carolina. Additional lands were added to Ellicott Rock Wilderness in 1984 with the passing of the North Carolina Wilderness Act and the Georgia Wilderness Act, today designated wilderness totals 8,274 acres (33.48 km2). Ellicott Rock Wilderness is the only wilderness that straddles three states, with boundaries located around the point at which Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina come together. Ellicott Rock Wilderness also spans three National Forests. Sumter National Forest in South Carolina is responsible for 2,859 acres (11.57 km2), receives the majority of recreation in the wilderness, and is also the lead manager of Ellicott Rock Wilderness. Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina is responsible for the majority of the wilderness at 3,394 acres (13.74 km2) and the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia manages 2,021 acres (8.18 km2) of the wilderness. In 1979, all Forest Service land was surveyed under the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation and 1,982 acres (8.02 km2) on the Sumter National Forest were classified as Roadless National Forest System land and named Ellicott Rock Extension. The Andrew Pickens Ranger district on the Sumter National Forest recommended the Ellicott Rock Extension as wilderness in 1995 in their Resource Management Plan. Although not fully designated, recommended wilderness is managed as if it were designated wilderness. In June 2017 during a land management plan revision, the Nantahala Ranger District on the Nantahala National Forest added 824 acres (3.33 km2) of proposed wilderness, currently called Ellicott Rock West Extension.

Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness

The Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Yolla Bolly Range of the southern Klamath Mountains and the Inner Northern California Coast Ranges, in Northern California.

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake is a lake in Mark Twain National Forest in Iron County, Missouri. It is 440 acres in area. Some parts of the lake are 87 feet deep.


  1. "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  2. "The National Forests of the United States" (PDF). Forest History Society. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  3. "Chadwick Motorcycle and ATV Use Area". United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  4. "Sutton Bluff ATV, UTV, and Motorcycle Trail System". United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  5. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  6. Mark Twain National Forest MPS
  7. Table 6 - NFS Acreage by State, Congressional District and County - United States Forest Service - September 30, 2007
  8. [ permanent dead link ]