Blue Buck Knob National Forest Scenic Byway

Area Status: Open
Blue Buck National Forest Scenic Byway

The Blue Buck Knob National Scenic Byway dissects 24-miles of the Mark Twain National Forest. The byway travels through farmland, open pastures, and densely wooded hillsides. Several overlooks treat adventurers to resplendent panoramas.

The Scenic Byway is a delightful drive, boasting alluring scenes and pleasant recreational opportunities. Its short length, entertainment potential, and scenic qualities make this byway a great place for an afternoon excursion or a delightful weekend trip.

Points of interest along this scenic byway are Indian Creek Overlook, Blue Buck Overlook, Noblett Recreation Area, and the Children's Forest/Blue Hole Trailhead where you can access the Ridge Runner and Ozark Trails. While you're at Noblett Lake, if you head across Highway AP, you can visit the remains of CCC Camp Willow.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed Noblett Lake during the Great Depression. Camp Willow housed the CCC and remnants of the camp can be seen about 2.5 miles east of AP Highway on Forest Road 108, opposite the Noblett Lake Road. You can picnic under the shade of sugar maples, shortleaf pines, and black and white oaks, or take a horseback ride among the wildflowers that sprinkle the rugged terrain near Noblett Lake.

Downloadable Byway Map (pdf)


Map of Blue Buck Knob National Scenic Byway

At a Glance

Reservations: A reservation is needed for the picnic pavilion at Noblett Lake Recreation Area. However, it is available for first come, first served when not reserved.
Area Amenities: Accessible, Fee charged for some activities, Picnic tables, Toilets, Parking
Fees: Day Use Fee
Usage: Light
Restrictions: Please adhere to all posted speed limits.
Closest Towns: Cabool; Willow Springs; Pomona; West Plains
Water: None
Restroom: Noblett Lake Recreation Area
Operated By: USDA Forest Service
Information Center: Ava Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District
Email | Phone and Address

General Information


From Cabool, MO

  • Take Highway 181 south
  • Stay on Highway 181 until you get to Highway AP
  • Turn left onto Highway AP
  • The scenic byway ends where Highway AP meets Highway 14

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Viewing Wildlife

As you drive you may see deer, turkey, and possibly bear.

The ultimate wildlife viewing experience is watching animals in their habitat. Here are some helpful tips to become a wildlife friendly viewer:

  • Use the right tools - A field guide, a pair of binoculars and a camera. Wear clothing that is appropriate for the season and activity.
  • Watch at dawn and dusk - This is the time when most wildlife species are active enough to view.
  • Keep your distance - Maintain a distance that is comfortable for the wildlife.
  • Stay quiet - Move slowly and quietly to increase your chances of viewing wildlife, and to avoid stressing the animals you wish to watch.
  • Do not feed the wildlife - There is plenty of food available in the wild. Human food can cause digestive problems, provide improper nutrition, and even kill an animal.

An online version of the Missouri Wildlife Viewing Guide is available on their website

Viewing Plants

The scenic byway meanders through a variety of landscapes, including breathtaking wooded areas that are home to an assortment of trees - shortleaf pine and mixed hardwoods.

Within this wide and varied landscape there exists a diverse array of plants. Of the roughly 2800 species of plant in Missouri, about two-thirds can be found on the Forest. While most can be found commonly throughout the Forest, less common species can be found in specific natural communities such as calcareous fens, acid seeps, and glades (limestone, dolomite and igneous).

What to look for

Viewing Scenery

This short, 24-mile, byway has several locations where you can stop and have scenic views of the forest.


Noblett Lake Recreation Area

Individual picnic tables and grills are available on a first come, first served basis. Vault toilets are available. There is no water available; visitors must bring their own.

The pavilion offers seating for up to 75 people, is equipped with electricity, tables and grills. Trash collection services are provided. There is a fee for use of the pavilion.


Blue Hole Trailhead

There's a picnic table located at the Blue Hole Trailhead of the North Fork Section of the Ozark Trail. 

Scenic Driving

The Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway travels through Missouri's Ozark hill country within the Mark Twain National Forest. It twists and turns through farmland, open pastures, and densely wooded hillsides. 


Picnic tables: Noblett Lake, Blue Hole Trailhead
Fee charged for some activities: Noblett Lake
Parking: Blue Buck Lookout, Noblett Lake, Blue Hole Trailhead
Toilets: Noblett Lake
Accessible: Noblett Lake

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
24 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude :