In Missouri there are eight great wilderness areas, located primarily in the southern part of Missouri. Some have hiking trails and all practice the leave no trace rules. These rules are – Prepare for everything and always plan ahead, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of trash properly, never take anything you found there, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of others.
Bell Mountain Wilderness is about nine thousand acres and is located in St. Francois Mountains. The highest point on this mountain stands at seventeen hundred and two feet. The Ozark Trail is a a part of the Bell Mountain Trail system, in total about one mile. This area contains twelve miles of trails, and campers must be sure to set up at least one hundred miles from these trails. From Potosi, Missouri you will find the closest route, which will be about a twenty mile drive.
Devil’s Backbone wilderness area is located in south central Missouri near West Plains and is about a fifteen minute drive. This wilderness area is just under seven thousand acres in total. These trails are open to horse back riders and are about thirteen miles long. This wilderness area gets it’s name for the central ridge where most of these trails are located, and at it’s highest point this ridge is one thousand twenty feet in elevation. In the Northern fork there is a recreation area for campers and an area for hiking as well.
The Hercules Glad Wilderness Area is a very beautiful area located in the deep southern reaches of Missouri. What some say could be the most gorgeous area in Missouri, this wilderness is over twelve thousand acres, and has over thirty miles of well taken care of trails. If you want to take a little shorter trail, you can find these on the smaller branches of this trail system. There are many trails with streams not equipped with bridges and they range in difficulty to travel from mild trails to very rough and difficult to handle.
The Irish Wilderness seems to have a lot going on, including that is has a rich history behind it. This area has great trails as well as many water activities to enjoy.White Trail head is one of the major trail heads located here and you can only find your way here but taking a float on the Eleven Point River. The Camp Five Pond is about a thirty five mile drive and is accessed leaving out of Doniphan, Missouri. Quite a ways past the Camp Five Pond trail head you will find the third trail head known as the Brawley Pond trail.
The Mingo Wilderness is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is a little less than eight thousand acres in size. The Mingo Wildlife Refuge is a refuge to many migratory waterfowl and is covers the larger part of this wilderness. This area has a wide range of marsh areas and is located in Missouri’s “boot heel” region.
The Paddy Creek Wilderness is located in the Big Piney River area and is about seven acres in size. This area has a trail system that is about seventeen miles long. This wilderness area can be hard to navigate so a map and compass are recommended.
The Piney Creek Wilderness is located thirty five miles from Branson and is about eight thousand acres total. The watershed from Piney Creek is in this area and feeds the famous Missouri lake Table Rock.
The Rockpile Wilderness is only around four thousand acres and is the smallest in Missouri. Most of this area is considered to be privately owned. The ponds built here are designed to trap spring water and also to provide water holes for wildlife in this area.