Council Bluff Recreation Area


Area Status: Open
View of the Beach and playground area at Council Bluff Lake

The Council Bluff Recreation Area, located next to the largest lake on the Mark Twain National Forest, is perfect for anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors. The area provides ample opportunities for camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, swimming and more.

The site is large and spread out, the campground and beach are about a 1 mile hike apart, the hike/bike is downhill from the campground to the beach, but uphill coming back.

Located in southern Missouri, the Council Bluff Lake was created by a dam built across Big River. It is 440 acres in size and 87 feet deep in some places.

The Wild Boar Campground and sheltered picnic area are available for individual families or large groups.

The Chapel Hill Beach is at the eastern end of the campground and provides 1.25 acres of sandy beach. The beach is accessible via a short walkway from the parking area.

Boating and paddling is a popular pastime on the lake, but all boats on the lake must operate at a no-wake speed. Visitors can access the water via the two boat ramps located at the lake.

Fishing is also available. Anglers can expect a catch of a variety of freshwater fish, including bass, bluegills, catfish and crappies.

The 12-mile Council Bluff Trail encircles the lake, with spurs to the campground. Hikers can enjoy scenic views of the lake and a look at the Mark Twain wilderness. The Ozark Trail connects to the Council Bluff Trail at Trace Creek mile 15.

Waterfowl hunting is allowed on Council Bluff Lake and the nearby Enough Fields provide upland game opportunities. A variety of wildlife makes its home in the heavily wooded area.

 

A Printable Brochure and map is available.

Bath House and Concession Stand at Council Bluff Lake Fishing at Council Bluff Lake Council Bluff Beach view of the fishing dock along side the boat launch view of the Beach and the accessible walkway

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Chapel Hill Beach - Closed. Wild Boar Ridge Campground - No potable water available at this time. Please note: Read the "directions" section below and before driving to the location enter "Council Bluff Campground" into your device as the destination; but do not just search for "Council Bluff". Searching for "Council Bluff" will bring up the lake and may cause your GPS to bring you in from the north, where the road is rough and you will need to turn around and re-route to the west side of the lake (Utilize this GPS coordinate to arrive at proper destination: 37.72261, -90.937792).
Operational Hours: Campground Quiet Hours - 10 pm - 6 pm
Reservations: Reservation needed - Campsites
  • Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance of visit for single sites.
  • Reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance of a visit for group sites.
  • Reservations must be made at least 3 days in advance of visit.
Go to: Recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777 to make a reservation. Picnic area pavilions can be reserved by calling the concessionaire at 576-766-5765.
Area Amenities: Accessible,Boat ramp,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Fee charged for some activities,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees: Concessionaire Fees Beach Day-Use Fees:
  • $5 per vehicle
  • $10 per bus
Boat Ramp Day-Use Fees:
  • $5 per vehicle
  • $10 per bus.
Season Day Use Pass
  • $25 - Available from Memorial Day through Labor Day
Group picnic area pavilion:
  • $50/day. 
Forest Service Fees Campsite (Non-Electric):
  • $11.00 single
  • $22 double sites.
  • Group Campsite
    • 1 - 25 people: $25/night
    • 26 - 50 people: $50/night
Open Season: Campground opens April 9
Usage: Light-Medium
Busiest Season: Memorial Day to Labor Day
Restrictions:
  • No food, glass containers or pets on beach.
  • Boat motors are limited to 10 horsepower or must be operated at a no wake speed if larger than 10 horsepower.
  • Horses and off-road vehicles are prohibited in developed areas.
  • Equestrian use is prohibited on Council Bluff Lake Trail
  • Fireworks are prohibited.
  • Campsite parking allows for two vehicles per site. Park only in designated parking areas.
  • No more than 8 people are permitted at single sites (16 for double sites).
  • Dogs must be on a 6 foot leash in the campground.
  • Only collect dead and downed wood for campfires. 
  • Jet skis are prohibited on the lake
Closest Towns: Belgrade, Caledonia
Water: Drinking water
Restroom: Vault in campground; Flush at beach
Passes: Pass information can be found on the Passes and Permits page of the website. 
Operated By: USDA Forest Service and Concessionaire
Information Center: Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District
Email | Phone and Address
  • Wild Boar Ridge Campground
  • Enough Boat Launch and Trailhead
Concessionaire 576-766-5765
  • Wild Boar Hollow Boat Launch
  • Chapel Hill Beach and Picnic Area

General Information

Directions:

Please note:  Read the "directions" section below and before driving to the location enter "Council Bluff Campground" into your device as the destination; but do not just search for "Council Bluff".  Searching for "Council Bluff" will bring up the lake and may cause your GPS to bring you in from the north, where the road is rough and you will need to turn around and re-route to the west side of the lake.

(Utilize this GPS coordinate to arrive at proper destination:   37.72261, -90.937792).

From Potosi,

  • Go south 10 miles on Highway 21
  • Turn right onto C Highway and go approximately 6 miles.
  • Turn left on Highway DD for about 8 miles to the entrance, on the left, for Council Bluff Recreation Area.

Accessibility:

There are handicap parking spaces at the beach parking lot.  The restrooms are handicap accessible at all locations.

The majority of the campsites are accessible, however, some sites have stairs down to them.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Sand Play

Recreation areas with activity Sand Play:

There is a 1.25 acre sand beach in front of the concession stand, that can be busy on a hot weekend.

Kids can enjoy a small playground with a slide and climbing structures on the beach.

There is a paved sidewalk that winds around in front of the beach on a raised up embankment, and there are two sets of wide-stairs down to the beach area.

Amenities at the beach include a concession stand operated by the concessionaire, coin-operated private hot showers, flush toilets, water fountains and outdoor showers. There is one large and one small accessible picnic pavilions with tables and grills.

No lifeguard on duty.

Mountain Biking

Recreation areas with activity Mountain Biking:

Council Bluff Lake Trail - 12-miles

The 12-mile long Council Bluff Trail encircles the lake, with spurs to the campground. There are some wet areas on the trail. There are a few places where trams have been installed in particularly wet areas.

Horses are prohibited from this section of the trail.

The trail can be accessed from the Wild Boar Hollow Boat Ramp Parking Lot and Enough Boat Launch, and there is a trailhead in the campground, look for it by the dumpster and horseshoe pit area.

Trace Creek Section of the Ozark Trail - 24-miles

Trace Creek Section of the Ozark Trail is located just west of the recreation area.

This section of the Ozark Trail is approximately 24 miles long and is open to foot, mountain bike, and equestrian traffic. From Hazel Creek in the north, it runs south crossing hollows, ridgetops, small streams, and several highways, ending at Hwy. A.

Campground Camping

Recreation areas with activity Campground Camping:

Walk-in Sites – There are two sets of walk-in sites located back in the woods a little bit. One set is located on the north side of the campground, the other is on the south side. They offer a little more privacy than the sites on the campground loop road. There is a small parking area for these sites where you can park and hike in with your gear at each set of sites. Each site has a fire pit and a picnic table.

Campground Loop - There is one loop around the campground, with the group campsites located in the middle of the loop. The sites are screened with trees and brush to give a sense of privacy. Each site has a table, fire ring, lantern post and a parking spur.

Coin-operated hot showers available at Chapel Hill Beach. Some loops are one way traffic while others are two-way. Please be aware of traffic direction.

No. of Sites
  • Single: 39
  • Double: 7
  • Walk-in: 9 (park your vehicle and hike into primitive sites for tent camping)
  • Group: 4
No. of Accessible sites All of the sites, except the walk-in sites, are accessible.

RV Camping

Recreation areas with activity RV Camping:

Campground Loop - There is one loop around the campground, with the group campsites located in the middle of the loop. The sites are screened with trees and brush to give a sense of privacy. Each site has a table, fire ring, lantern post and a parking spur.

Coin-operated hot showers available at Chapel Hill Beach. Some loops are one way traffic while others are two-way. Please be aware of traffic direction.

No electric or water hookup, showers or dump station facilities.

No. of Sites
  • Single Sites: 39
  • Double Sites: 7
  • Group Sites: 4
Vehicle Clearence No restrictions
Size Restrictions Up to 40 feet at most sites. Check recreation.gov for specific length restrictions for sites.
Pavement Type of Parking spurs are paved
No. of Accessible sites All sites for RV camping are accessible.

Group Camping

Recreation areas with activity Group Camping:

4 group camp sites which can accommodate up to 50 people each. These sites can be busy on summer weekends.

There is one loop around the campground, with the group campsites located in the middle of the main loop.

  • Loops A and D you pull directly off of the main loop road to park.
  • Loops B and C have their own directional loops with parking.

The sites are screened with trees and brush to give a sense of privacy. Each site has a table, fire ring, lantern post and parking spurs.

Coin-operated hot showers available at Chapel Hill Beach.

Some loops are one way traffic while others are two-way. Please be aware of traffic direction.

No. of Sites Group sites: 4
No. of Accessible sites all group sites are accessible. 

Lake and Pond Fishing

Recreation areas with activity Lake and Pond Fishing:

There are 2 boat launches on Council Bluff Lake: Wild Boar Hollow and Enough.

Over by the Enough boat launch there is an abundance of lily pads. Because this lake was built due to dam construction there are trees in the lake by this boat launch and around the perimeter of the lake. Once you are in the middle of the lake and by the beach there are few submerged trees from the flooding to create the lake.

If you are using a motorized watercraft it may be preferable to launch from Wild Boar Hollow.

Fishing is permitted year round. Fishing regulations are established by Missouri Department of Conservation.

Fishing Mode boat, shoreline
Fish Species stocked with largemouth bass, red-ear, sunfish, bluegill, crappie and catfish
Fishing Platform None
Water Temperature cold
Fishing Method Rod & Reel
Water/Flow Level 87 feet at maximum depth, 440-acres
Status: Open

Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:

Council Bluff Lake Trail - 12-miles

The 12-mile long Council Bluff Trail encircles the lake, with spurs to the campground. There are some wet areas on the trail. There are a few places where trams have been installed in particularly wet areas.

Horses are prohibited from this section of the trail.

The trail can be accessed from the Wild Boar Hollow Boat Ramp Parking Lot and Enough Boat Launch, and there is a trailhead in the campground, look for it by the dumpster and horseshoe pit area.

Trace Creek Section of the Ozark Trail - 24-miles

Trace Creek Section of the Ozark Trail is located just west of the recreation area.

This section of the Ozark Trail is approximately 24 miles long and is open to foot, mountain bike, and equestrian traffic. From Hazel Creek in the north, it runs south crossing hollows, ridgetops, small streams, and several highways, ending at Hwy. A.

Game Bird/Waterfowl

Recreation areas with activity Game Bird/Waterfowl:

Waterfowl hunting is permitted on Council Bluff Lake and the Enough Fields provide upland game opportunities.

Hunting regulations are established by Missouri Department of Conservation.

Picnicking

Recreation areas with activity Picnicking:

Near the beach is a large grassy area with shaded picnic tables. Each table has a trash can and a pedestal grill.

Several of the sites in the grassy area have accessible surfaces or deck. Several of the tables are located up on the wooded hill surrounding the grassy area.

No. of Sites 17 single-family picnic sites

Group Picnicking

Recreation areas with activity Group Picnicking:

Large Pavilion – This pavilion is down a paved road from the beach/grassy area. After you pass the concession stand you continue down the paved road and around the grassy area and will find this pavilion located on the bank of the lake, right next to the water. The pavilion has 8 tables and a group grill. It can accommodate a group of up to 74. There is an outdoor shower, water spigot, and restroom next to this pavilion.

Small Pavilion - This pavilion is down a paved road from the beach/grassy area. You can find it just as you enter the site, on the left. This site is in a wooded area above the paved road. This pavilion has 4 tables, a trashcan, and a group grill. It can accommodate a group of up to 25.

No. of Sites 2 pavilions

Boating - Motorized

Recreation areas with activity Boating - Motorized:

Boat Motors limited to 10 horsepower, or no wake.

Enough Boat Launch is a single-lane gravel launch. Over by the Enough boat launch there is an abundance of lily pads. Because this lake was built due to dam construction there are trees in the lake by this boat launch and around the perimeter of the lake. Once you are in the middle of the lake and by the beach there are few submerged trees from the flooding to create the lake.

Wild Boar Hollow Boat Launch is a single-lane concrete launch with a boat dock. If you are using a motorized watercraft it may be preferable to launch from Wild Boar Hollow.

Type of Craft Jet skis are prohibited.
Motor Type Electric or gas motors are allowed.  

Boating - Non-Motorized

Recreation areas with activity Boating - Non-Motorized:

Visitors frequently come to canoe, kayak or paddle board on Council Bluff Lake.

Enough Boat Launch is a single-lane gravel launch. Over by the Enough boat launch there is an abundance of lily pads. Because this lake was built due to dam construction there are trees in the lake by this boat launch and around the perimeter of the lake. Once you are in the middle of the lake and by the beach there are few submerged trees from the flooding to create the lake.

Wild Boar Hollow Boat Launch is a single-lane concrete launch with a boat dock. If you are using a motorized watercraft it may be preferable to launch from Wild Boar Hollow.

Status: Open

Swimming

Recreation areas with activity Swimming:

There is a 1.25 acre sand beach in front of the concession stand, that can be busy on a hot weekend.

Kids can enjoy a small playground with a slide and climbing structures on the beach.

There is a paved sidewalk that winds around in front of the beach on a raised up embankment, and there are two sets of wide-stairs down to the beach area.

Amenities at the beach include a concession stand operated by the concessionaire, coin-operated private hot showers, flush toilets, water fountains and outdoor showers. There is one large and one small accessible picnic pavilions with tables and grills.

The area is not managed for swimming: there are no lifeguards, depth or hazard markers, and the water is not tested.

The swimming area is delineated by buoys and floating plastic pipe.  Outside of this area you may encounter motorized boats.

Status: Closed

Amenities

Camping trailer: Yes
Picnic tables: Yes
Tent camping: Yes
Parking: Beach: 75 vehicles; Enough Boat Launch: 12 vehicles with trailers; Wild Boar Hollow Boat Launch: 25 vehicles with trailers
Toilets: Yes
Fee charged for some activities: Yes
Accessible: Some features and amenities are acessible
Boat ramp: Yes
Drinking water: Yes

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
37.72261

  Longitude : 
-90.937792