Visitors to Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs District will find different landscapes from oak-hickory forests , shortleaf pine forests, and cedar glades. Cedar glades are open areas of native tall prairie grasses characterized by dry, shallow soils and limestone outcroppings.
The unique blending of eastern forest and western desert habitats makes a home for such varied wildlife as the bald eagle and the roadrunner, armadillos and wild turkey, white-tailed deer and black bears.
The sunlit balds and deep hollows, narrow ridgetops and steep slopes, secluded pastures and clear streams characteristic of the Ozarks are the trademark of the District. This is the landscape so eloquently described in Harold Bell Wright's famous book, The Shepherd of the Hills.
Nearby vacation destinations -- Branson, Silver Dollar City, Bass Pro, and Table Rock Lake -- make the District one of Missouri's favorite playgrounds.
If you drive through this area, you will be delighted at every turn by scenic views. Hike your way through the Forest and you will find solitude and tranquility.
The beautiful North Fork River is the pride of Willow Springs Area. A total of nine major springs flow into the river; two of the largest, Big Springs and Blue Spring, contribute some 18 million gallons of cold, clear water every day. The river is popular with canoeists as well as anglers.
The District contains three of seven Congressionally-designated Wilderness Areas; Devils Backbone, Hercules Glades, and Piney Creek Wildernesses.
The Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest is proud to offer the Walk When the Moon is Full Program, based on the writings of Francis Hammerstrom, who guided her children on nature walks every month under the light of the full moon.
The Eleven Point Ranger District takes its name from the Eleven Point River, designated a National Scenic River in 1968. Some unique features of the Eleven Point Ranger District include Greer Spring which is the largest spring on National Forest land and the Scenic Eleven Point River. Floating offers spectacular close-up views of rocky bluffs, springs, vegetation, birds and animals. Camping is permitted on gravel bars as well as in one of seven primitive campgrounds accessible only by boat. Other recreation opportunities include: hunting, hiking, wildlife watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing and camping. The district has 7 campgrounds, many near special attractions like rivers and springs. If your interest is tubing, tubing is popular at Deer Leap and Watercress campgrounds. Local vendors provide tube sales and rentals.If your interest is in hiking, there is over 122 miles of trail available ranging from ½ mile easy loop trails to several days journey on the Ozark Trail or 18 miles located in the Irish wilderness. If developed camping is your niche, we have 6 developed campground and over 10 undeveloped camping areas located throughout the district.
The Current River recreation areas provide a wonderful opportunity for the public to experience a more social recreation opportunity in the southern ozarks. The swift , clear and cool Current River with numerous gravel bars provides motorized boating, non-motorized boating, tubing, camping, picknicking and wading opportunities in a more developed recreation setting. On weekends you will experience numerous recreationists enjoying a variety of waterbased activities. A favorite past time on the river whether boating or tubing includes taking breaks on the numerous gravel bars. The recreation areas on the Current River are easily accessible by vehicle and are located near small communities which provide a variety of services. The northern most access site is the Watercress Recreation Area located in Van Buren, Mo. Watercress is a developed area which provides a boat launch, day use picnicking, overnight camping, and two group picnicking shelters The next area is the Bay Nothing Boat Launch located near Grandin, Mo. Bay Nothing is a primitive site that provides a boat launch and limited day use opportunities. Moving downriver you encounter the Deer Leap and Float Camp Recreation areas located just outside of Doniphan, Mo. Deer Leap and Float Camp are developed areas which provide a variety of opportunities from renting tubes, canoes and rafts; to launching your canoe or jon boat; to camping and picnicking. For more information about these individual sites please select them by recreation area on the website.
The Eleven Point National Scenic River was established in 1968 as a 44 mile scenic river, free of impoundments with a largely undeveloped shoreline and watershed. This portion of the river between Thomasville, Missouri and the Highway 142 bridge is near Gatewood, Missouri. It became one of the 8 initial units of the National Wild and Scenic River system in 1968. The Eleven Point River meanders through the picturesque Ozark hills of southern Missouri. Its course is cut in the shadows of steep bluffs, through sloping forested valleys and low lying riparian ecosystems. Barely more than a small stream at its upper reaches near Thomasville, it gains considerable width and depth as its proceeds south-eastward. Springs pouring from dolomite bluffs or rushing up from a vast network of underground flow systems provide a continuous source of water and beauty. Alternating stretches of rapids and deep clear pools wind around moss covered boulders and shading bottomland hardwood trees.
ACCESS TO THE RIVER: There are currently eleven designated access points to the river by vehicle. Of these access points 7 are managed to a standard that includes boat ramps and vault toilets. The remaining 4 access sites are managed to a lesser standard to encourage use by those wishing to avoid higher user densities. In addition there are 8 float camps designated on the river to provide overnight camping for river users.
WHO CAN USE THE RIVER: The river has been designated for both motorized and non-motorized use. The motorized users must adhere to a 25 horsepower limit.
FISHING: There are opportunities aplenty for small mouth bass and panfish. Special regulations apply. Go to www.mdc.mo.gov for more information. Trout fishing starts at the confluence of the Greer spring branch and the river. Greer is the world's 10th biggest spring and doubles the size of the river while turning it into a cold water fishery. This is the beginning of the blue ribbon trout section which extends about 6 miles to Turner Mill spring. Flies and artificial lures only are allowed (soft plastic and baits are prohibited) and there is a limit of 1 fish at least 18 inches. There is a strong population in this section of river.
For More Information on floating, camping and access points on the Eleven Point Scenic River Click here.
The Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek District covers about 207,000 acres in seven counties in south/central Missouri. The oak/hickory and pine forests intermixed with tallgrass prairie lands in the north provide opportunities for hunting, wildlife watching, wildflower viewing, hiking, dispersed camping and other uses.
The district is rich with rivers and streams: the beautiful bluffs of the Big Piney River, the Gasconade River and the Little Piney River in the south and central portions of the district and the Cedar Creek at the north end. Fishing and canoeing opportunities abound, including several river access points on the Big Piney and Gasconade Rivers. Smaller creeks such as Mill Creek and Spring Creek, supplied by springs, provide other fishing or water-based recreational opportunities, including trout fishing. Paddy Creek Wilderness with the 18-mile Big Piney Trail provides solitude for horseback riders and hikers. A total of over 80 miles of trails, including the Kaintuck, Cole Creek and Cedar Creek trails, provide multi-use trails open to mountain bikes, horses, overnight backpacking, and hikers and allow scenic views of rock outcrops and stream drainages. Other shorter trails provide hikes at the campgrounds. Four developed campgrounds provide picnic and camping sites, some with electric hook-ups. Other trailheads provide dispersed camping with ample parking for horse trailers and other users.
The Poplar Bluff Ranger District has 150,000 acres located at the southeastern edge of the Ozarks, where the forest starts to give way to the Mississippi River lowlands. Poplar Bluff District offers two developed recreation areas, hiking and riding trails, fishing from barrier-free piers, and boating. As well as many other hunting opportunities there are also two walk-in turkey hunting areas providing plenty of sport for the Spring season hunters seeking out that most elusive game bird.
Markham Springs Recreation Area provides opportunities for camping and day use. This area gets its name from former owner, M. J. Markham, who acquired the property in 1901 and operated a lumber mill at the site until the 1930s. The Fuchs House, a five-bedroom concrete and native stone home, also sits on the property, along with a neighboring mill.
Located adjacent to the Black River, the recreation area contains a small pond that dates back to the 1800s. The area is covered by a dense forest of colorful trees, including ash, elm, maple and poplar. River and stream fishing are popular activities near the campground. The Black River boasts bass, sunfish, walleye and catfish. Many anglers fish from boats, but others fish from the riverbanks. Canoeing and kayaking is also possible on the river.
Various day hikes within the Markham Springs Trail System are accessible from the campground. Eagle Bluff Trail is a 1.5-mile loop along the river, where birding and wildlife viewing are favorite pastimes.
Markham Springs Campground is set on the Black River in a scenic and historic recreation area in the southwestern corner of Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest. The area provides access to multiple trails and recreational opportunities. The campground offers single and double sites for tent and RV camping. Some rather primitive sites are located in a wooded setting near the river. Electric hookups are provided, as well as tables and campfire rings with grills. Lantern posts are also available. Accessible vault toilets, drinking water, showers and trash collection are provided.
Primitive camping is also available in a wooded setting near the Black River.
The day use area has a 2-acre, 20 foot deep mill pond that dates back to the 1800s, several picnic sites, open fields; river access for boating, fishing and float tubes and canoes; and short hiking trails that provide views of the river, the pond, the springs and the uplands. Six springs pour almost 5 million gallons of water a day into the pond, and the bubble spring, a smaller outlet of Markham Spring outside of the pond area that has air with it, rises in soft sand forming the unique “air bubbles”.
In the late 1930’s, Rudolph Fuchs built a 5-bedroom concrete and native stone house for his family, and also built the present wheel house to produce electricity for his needs. Power was obtained by building a dam in a semi-circle below a large spring forming a small pond. The water was to pour through a chute on the wheel to produce electricity; however electricity arrived to the site before the wheel ever needed to do its job. The area had an undershot wheel providing power to a grist mill in the late 19th century.
The historic Fuchs house was restored by a group of craftsmen under permit from the National Forest. Used primarily by these individuals and their families, it is also available for rent by the day, weekend, or week. For additional Information on Home Resort Rental visit www.markhamsprings.com
Pinewoods Lake Recreation Area sits next to Pinewoods Lake in southeastern Missouri. It is an ideal location to enjoy lake fishing and scenic trails. Drinking water is not available.
The lake is located on the southeastern quadrant of the Mark Twain National Forest. The area is densely wooded.
A 1.3-mile walking trail surrounds the lake. Most of the trail has a concrete surface and is accessible. The entire trail is relatively flat, with no difficult sections. Circling the 32-acre lake, the trail provides views of the lake, songbirds and wildlife, and an abundance of wildflowers.
The lake offers a floating fishing pier and a concrete boat ramp. Anglers can enjoy fishing for bass, sunfish and catfish.
The day-use picnic shelter pavilion can accommodate up to 75 people. It is equipped with tables and large grills. Accessible vault toilets are provided. Trash collection service is not available; visitors must carry out all garbage.
Ellsinore is the closest city to the campground, just 3 miles away, with a few dining options, a grocery store and fuel station.
The 201,582 acres of Potosi Ranger District offer many developed and undeveloped sites for camping and picnicking. Because of the karst topography prevalent in this area, caves with springs that feed the rivers and streams can often be seen. They are currently closed to all visitors to protect bats from contamination by white-nosed-syndrome. Courtois and Huzzah Creeks are well-known "floating" streams, typical of the Ozarks, and much-loved by canoeists who flock there in summertime for the crystal clear water and safe passage. A portion of the Ozark Trail traverses Potosi District, and the segment encompassing the Berryman Trail is popular for mountain biking events. The 9,183 acre Bell Mountain Wilderness has beautiful views and challenging trails in a secluded and primitive setting.
Council Bluff Recreation Area is the largest lake in the Mark Twain National Forest. Providing a more developed experience, it features a sandy swimming beach, drinking water, restrooms, and many barrier-free facilities on a beautiful 440 acre lake, encircled by a 12 mile moderate hiking and mountain biking trail. Boar Ridge Campground along the spine of a forested Ozark ridge above the lake, offers a unique camping experience.
The 83,953 acre Fredericktown District features the rugged St. Francois Mountains and St. Francis River. In Spring, the "shut-ins" at Silver Mine are a magnet for kayak enthusiasts, who take advantage of the high water rapids. Marble Creek provides a quiet campground for family outings, and Crane Lake welcomes hikers to take the trail around it as part of their trek along the Ozark Trail. Rockpile Mountain Wilderness offers 4,240 acres of heavily-forested land, including some of the state`s last remaining virgin forest nestled in a narrow gorge.
Red Bluff Campground is named for towering red bluffs along Huzzah Creek, carved by the elements over the past 10,000 years. The area used to be home to timber mills, but now provides a serene spot for camping and enjoying nature.
Early settlement of the area surrounded the Boyer Mill constructed around 1830. Railroads created a thriving timber industry till the supply was depleted. The land was purchased by the U.S. Forest Service in 1940 and has been used as a recreation area.
This 4,238 acre Wilderness takes its name from an ancient circle of granite rock, piled by some earlier man on top of the mountain. It is located in Madison County on the Fredericktown Ranger District, southeast of Bell Mountain and southwest of Fredericktown, Missouri. The area is primarily a broken ridge, having steep rocky slopes running from Little Grass Mountain on the north to the National Forest boundary four miles to the south. A printable brochure (972k, pdf format) of the Wilderness is available, additional a recreational opportunity guide (376k, pdf format) is available.
Trails: From the trailhead there is a 2 mile section of maintained trail. The rest of the area is accessed by old woods roads or cross-country hiking.
Rating: Moderate. Terrain is sometimes steep. The area is within the St. Francois Mountains where elevations range from 1,305 to 520 feet. Length: 2 miles. Best Seasons: Fall, winter, and spring. Leave No Trace: Pack out what you pack in. Restrictions: Foot and Horse only. Safety: No drinking water is available at parking areas or along the trail; bring what you will need, or be prepared to sterilize water you find. During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects, poison ivy and high temperatures. Be advised of hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods. Surface Type: Unsurfaced, native material.
The Salem district encompasses approximately 175,000 acres within the Salem Plateau of the Ozark Highlands. The district includes lands located within Crawford, Iron, Dent, Reynolds, and Shannon counties in the south-east central part of the state of Missouri. The Ozarks are characterized by deeply dissected hills, karst topography, horizontal bedrock, caves, sink holes, and natural springs. The ecosystem is rich in biological diversity and includes species that are found only in the Ozark Plateau. The main vegetation is upland oak-hickory and oak-pine forest, with bottomland hardwood forest in the floodplains of large rivers.