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Mark Twain National Forest has a wide range of popular recreation opportunities. With seven Wilderness Areas, the Ozark Trail, the Eleven Point Wild and Scenic River, many campgrounds and day use areas, springs, and areas such as Fuchs House at Markham Springs you are sure to discover your place to unplug and make the Mark Twain part of your story.

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Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Recreation Conditions Report

Area Name Status Area Conditions
Bar-K Wrangler Camp Open Open
Bay Nothing Gravel Boat Launch Open Open
Berryman Campground Open Open
Big Bay Recreation Area Open Open Day Use Area and toilet – Open Boat Launch - Closed for Safety issues
  • Currently the boat launch at the Big Bay Day Use Area near Shell Knob, MO, is closed for safety concerns. The ramp has chunks of concrete breaking and leaving drop offs. We apologize for any inconvenience, but we need to provide for user safety. If you have any questions, please contact the Ava office at 417-683-4428.We will provide updates as available.
Big Piney equestrian camp Open Open
Boze Mill Float Camp Open Open
Brazil Creek Trailhead Open Open
Cane Bluff River Access Open Open The boat ramp at the access is currently unusable as a result of a flooding event in 2017.
Chadwick Motorcycle and ATV Use Area Open Open
Cobb Ridge Recreation Area Open Open
Council Bluff Recreation Area Closed Closed Chapel Hill Beach - CLOSED for winter Wild Boar Ridge Campground - CLOSED for winter. Please note: Read the "directions" section below 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).
Deer Leap Recreation Area Open Open
Dry Fork Recreation Area Closed Closed Will have its gates closed for the season on December 1st and services stopped for the winter. The gates and services will start back up next spring on April 15th. If a date falls on a weekend, then the gate will be open the following Monday.
Falling Springs Picnic Ground Open Open The road to this site is steep and bumby
Float Camp Recreation Area Closed Closed
Fourche Lake Recreation Area Open Open
Greer Crossing Recreation Area Open Open
Greer Spring Open Open
Hendrickson Boat Launch Open Open
Hercules Glades Wilderness Open Open
Highway 142 River Access Open Open
Lane Spring Recreation Area Closed Closed Closed early this season for Construction. Day Use opened for season on March 1, 2022 and campground opens for season April 15, 2022. Water will not be available until May 1.
Loggers Lake Recreation Area Open Open
Marble Creek Recreation Area Open Open Scheduled to open April 9, 2022
Markham Springs Recreation Area Open Open Day-use activities open year round, campground closes seaonally. Pavilion - Temporarily Closed until Further Notice
Noblett Lake Recreation Area Open Open The Noblett Recreation Area (Day Use Area and Dam Area) is open including the bathrooms. The area below the dam is open for dispersed camping.  The pavilion is available  by 1st come/1st serve. 
North Fork Recreation Area Open Open North Fork Recreation Area - Day Use Area
  • open year-round
North Fork Recreational Area Campground
  • open seasonally 5/15-11/30
  • No water during cold weather
Paddy Creek Recreation Area Open Open The campground closes for the season Dec. 1 and reopens on April 1
Pine Ridge Recreation Area Open Open Day use is open year round; campground closes for season on Dec. 1 and reopens in mid-April.
Pinewoods Lake Recreation Area Open Open Pinewoods Lake Recreation Area is open year-round for Day Use Activities only, with a managed season of May 1 through October 1.
Piney Creek Wilderness Open Open
Ripley Lake Open Open
Shell Knob Open Open
Silver Mines Recreation Area Closed Closed
Slabtown Recreation Area Open Open For Steam Flow and Flooding forecast visit the USGS website
Stop 5: Caney Day Use Area Open Open
Sutton Bluff ATV, UTV, and Motorcycle Area Open Open Notice:  Trails 4 and 5 are closed form previous flood damage, and trail 12 is closed for compromised structural integrity of the bridge.
Sutton Bluff Recreation Area Closed Closed
Thomasville River Access Open Open
Turner Mill North River Access Open Open
Turner Mill South River Access Open Open
Watercress Recreation Area Open Open Campground closed for season, day use remains open.
Whitten River Access Open Open
Wolf Creek Open Open


Falling Springs Picnic Ground

Once you step out of your car this site will transport you back in time.

This is a rustic picnic area with abundant history, and minimal conveniences. The day use facility is situated on the edge of a pond formed by a spring. The around the pond is open and grassy. Oak and pine forest surround the site.

The spring, one of our most photographed areas on the Forest, is known as Falling Spring because water pours out of the rock above the pond as a small waterfall. In the early 1900’s the spring provided power for two mills. To get to the mill there is a wooden treadway.

Also located on the site is a log cabin that is over 100 years old.

Falling Spring Mill

Built between 1927 and 1929, Falling Spring Mill was used to grind corn for feed, saw out shingles, saw firewood, and generate electricity on the site. The second of two mills, it differed from the original structure in that the first had a wooden wheel.

The mill was first constructed of timber, then later enclosed with saw board siding. The mill’s present overshot wheel came from Johnson Spring, located approximately three miles down Hurricane Creek from Falling Spring.

The former mill sits under a bluff where water comes out of a cave opening to form a spring, about 15 feet above the ground. When the mill was in use, a wooden flume went from the spring to the small mill.

The mill is unique for the time period it was built in, the size is small compared to most of the mills in the area at the time, which were much larger.

Thomas Brown Cabin

Thomas and Jane Brown homesteaded the Falling Spring area in 1851. They settled in a land which looked very similar to their homeland, Tennessee.

The area around Falling Spring provided for their basic needs – water for livestock and personal use, and trees from which to build a cabin. Known today as the Tomas Brown Cabin, it was the first of four houses built near the site.

One of the reasons the cabin remains today because of the use of half-dovetail notching used on the corners. The notching helped shed water off the logs.

“We crossed the Mississippi River at what was called Green’s Old Ferry and we crossed the Ohio River at what was called Golconda in an old horse boat. In that company were 17 persons. They were the Brown Family and my mother’s two sisters (named Fowler) and the Reaser family”

“On reaching Missouri, the eldest brother, James M., shook hands with each of his brothers and sisters, bade them farewell, and departed northward, settling in the St. Joseph area. The rest of the company continued to Oregon County.”  - Written April, 1929, by James Brown in his granddaughter, Dorothy Thompson’s, graduation memory book.