Irish Wilderness

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Creek within the Irish Wilderness Area

The Irish Wilderness is a dense forest of oaks and hickory. Wilderness is set aside by Congress as 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 outdoor enthusiasts seek out its peace and special closeness to experiencing the wonders of nature. No two individuals share the same meaning and values of the wilderness experience, but it is primitive and challenging, and recreationists must be self-reliant.

In the mid 1800’s a Catholic priest dreamed of a place where Irish immigrants could escape the oppression of urban live in St. Louis. In this wild area of the Ozarks, Father Hogan established a settlement that would forever bear their name, Irish Wilderness. The Irish Wilderness, caught in the middle of the Civil War, became a “no man’s land” and was raided by both Union and Confederate troops as well as bushwhackers. It is not certain what happened to Father Hogan’s Irish immigrants, but after the war they were gone.

A printable brochure (5.7m pdf format) of the Wilderness is available for download.


Trails: The major way of travel within the Irish Wilderness is the 18.6 mile Whites Creek Trail. From the trailhead at Camp Five Pond to the Eleven Point River, visitors are exposed to a wide variety of natural terrain and geographical relief. From relatively flat land at the beginning, hikers traverse through many ecological zones including dried creek beds, grasslands, glades, bluff country, and breathtaking views overlooking the Eleven Point River. Whites Creek trail is not designed for horse use, but horse use is permitted. Motorized or mechanized use is not permitted.

Rating: Moderate.
Length:18.6 miles
Best Seasons: Fall, winter, and spring.
Leave No Trace: Pack out what you pack in.
Restrictions: Foot and Horse only. Please limit your party size to 10 persons. 
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. The Irish Wilderness is a relatively large tract of land, so be sure to bring a compass and always carry a map of the area. Trail signs are minimal. If you become lost, don’t panic. Stay calm and try to remember how you got to your present location. Always let someone, family member or friend, know when you plan to enter the wilderness and when you plan to return. 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.

At a Glance

Usage: Light
Restrictions: Increasing numbers of wilderness users may seriously impact the very values they seek. To ensure that these values remain intact, please practice good wilderness manners and comply with the following regulations. There are certain human impacts that could damage or destroy the wilderness resource. These are practices are not allowed within the Irish Wilderness. 1) Possessing of leaving refuge, debris or litter in an exposed or unsanitary condition. 2) Placing in or near a stream, lark or water any substance which does or may pollute a stream, lake or waterway. 3) Leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it. 4) Cutting or defacing live or dead standing trees or other vegetation. 5) Possessing or using a motor vehicle, motor boat, motorized equipment, or mechanical transport (including mountain bikes and wagons). 6) Landing an aircraft, dropping, or picking up materials, supplies or persons by means of aircraft, including helicopters. 7) The building of "structures" such as rock fire rings, lean-tos, etc. 8) Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life or causing injury, in or within 150 yards of an occupied areas, or in any manner of place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury of damage as a result of such discharge. 9) Firing any tracer bullet or incendiary ammunition. 10) No more than 10 individuals shall travel or camp together as one group. 11) Camping will be permitted anywhere except within 100 feet of a trail, water, cave, rock shelter, other occupied campsite. 12) Off-trail horse and mule use is permitted in Wilderness. 13) Tying stock to live trees is prohibited. 14) Horses or mules will not be picketed within 100 feet of trail or water.
Closest Towns: Doniphan, Mo.
Water: None
Operated By: U. S. Forest Service

General Information


To access the Camp Five Pond Trailhead: It is accessible from Doniphan, Mo. Via Highway 160, west 20 miles to State Highway J, then north 7 miles. This same trailhead may be accessed from US Highway 60 to the north by traveling 16 miles south on Highway J to Camp Five Pond.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Camping & Cabins

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Horse Riding & Camping

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Related Information

Areas & Activities


  Area/Length : 
16,227 acres

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 


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