Special Places

Wilderness Area

Wilderness is a natural area affected primarily by the forces of nature with little evidence of man's works -- where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. Many individuals seek out its peace and solitude, yet it has different meanings and values to different people depending on whether they are backpackers, hunters, photographers, or hikers.

Increasing numbers of Wilderness users may seriously impact the very values they seek. To insure that these values remain intact, please practice good wilderness manners and comply with the regulations listed below.

The wilderness deserves your protection. When you visit, practice "leave no trace" techniques of traveling and camping.

Mark Twain National Forest boasts 7 wilderness areas scattered from east to west in southern Missouri. Although smaller than most Wildernesses in the National Forest System, they are nonetheless wild areas of great natural beauty.

To learn more about the wilderness areas, view brochures and trail maps, on Mark Twain National Forest, click on the links below.

For information on other Wilderness Areas visit www.Wilderness.net

Regulations

There are certain human impacts that could damage or destroy the wilderness resource. These practices are not allowed within the Wilderness.

  • Possessing or leaving refuse, debris, or litter in an exposed or unsanitary condition;
  • Placing in or near a stream, lake, or other water any substance which does or may pollute a stream, lake, or other water;
  • Leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it;
  • Cutting or defacing live or dead standing trees or other vegetation;
  • Possessing or using motorized equipment or mechanized transport;
  • Landing of aircraft, or dropping or picking up any material, supplies or persons by means of aircraft including helicopters;
  • The building of "structures" such as rock fire rings, tables, lean-tos and the like;
  • Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life or causing injury, in or within 150 yards of an occupied area, or In any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to Injury or damage as a result of such discharge;
  • Firing any tracer bullet or incendiary ammunition.
  • Missouri Department of Conservation hunting and fishing regulations and license requirements apply.
     

Wilderness Manners

  • Today, backpackers should leave no sign of their presence so that the next person can enjoy natural scenes and solitude. You must tread lightly so nature can endure and replenish.
  • There are self-registration stations at each wilderness trailhead entrance shown on the map. Overnight and day use visitors are requested to register.
  • Plan your party size, limit size of group to 10 persons or less. This reduces impact on soil and ground cover. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Leave your camp cleaner than you found it. Pack out what you pack in. Animals generally dig up what you bury, so don't. Dispose of human waste at least 100 feet from campsites, trails and waterways. Dig a shallow hole and cover, nature will biologically decompose.
  • Keep the number of campfires low and small in size. Dead fallen trees add to the natural environment and future shortages may cause complete restrictions. Fire rings are unnatural signs of man and should be avoided. The use of small gas or chemical cooking stoves is recommended. Use care with open campfires - make sure they are dead out and their evidence is scattered before leaving.
  • Protect the solitude; seek out campsites that are out of sight and sound of trails and other camps. When sharing an area keep a low profile and maintain the solitude.
  • Avoid overuse of popular areas, and search out the lesser known attractions.
  • Be prepared --- have the right equipment and clothing for primitive travel and the season of the year. Carry a good map and compass; practice safety and carry a first aid kit. The universal distress signal is three of anything: shots, shouts, smokes, whistles.
  • If you choose to carry a cell phone for safety or emergencies, be considerate of other visitors, many of whom go to the out-of-doors to get away from technology.  Carry and use cell phones out-of-sight and sound of other people; keep them turned off until needed or on the “vibrate” or “silent” ringer setting.
  • Be self-reliant, whether carrying cell phones or not. Don’t be ill-prepared or engage in risky actions just because you have a cell phone to call for rescue. Remember that in many remote areas cell phone coverage is limited or non-existent.
  • When traveling on a trail, stay on the trail. When traveling cross-country use your map and compass. Use of blazes, ribbons, or other trail markers should be avoided; let the next fellow find his own way as you did.
  • Pack your own shelter, including needed poles and stakes; they are more comfortable than lean-tos.
  • The Wilderness may be surrounded by private property. Please respect the rights and property of private landowners.
  • Do your part to protect the natural conditions found in Wilderness. Always clean weed seeds from clothing, gear and animals before entering the area. Report any non-native invasive species that you see, including feral hogs.