Mark Twain National Forest

Quick Facts

Mark Twain National Forest

Missouri

(573) 364-4621

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Located in southern Missouri, lies the Mark Twain National Forest. The Forest lies mostly within the Ozark Plateau dotted with remnant hills from this country's oldest mountains, the Ozarks. It is the only National Forest in the State, encompassing 1,487,009 acres.

Map of Mark Twain Nat'l Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 37.890031, -91.198151

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Activities

  • Boating

    Both motorized and non-motorized boating is permitted. Contact the national forest for details about location-based rules and regulations.

  • Bird Watching

    The forest has over 320 species of birds.

  • Bicycling

    Seeing the Mark Twain National Forest from its hundreds of miles of mountain-biking friendly trails is an experience you'll likely remember for a lifetime. Mountain bike use is also permitted on forest roads and trails unless specifically posted otherwise. The exceptions are wilderness areas, which are closed to motorized or mechanical transport of any kind.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Although most roads through the Mark Twain National Forest are scenic, a few are outstandingly so. The scenery is especially attractive in mid-April to early May, when redbud and dogwood bloom, and in mid-October to early November, when leaves change color.

    The Glade Top Trail (Forest Road 147) is a National Scenic Byway. This 17-mile winding gravel road will take you through cedar-dotted knobs in the Ava-Cassville Ranger District. The Caney Picnic Area and other stops offer vistas of surrounding glades and northern Arkansas mountains.

    Skyline Drive in the Eleven Point Ranger District is a four-mile paved loop along a ridgetop off Highway 103, south of Van Buren, Missouri. This drive offers scenic vistas of surrounding hills and river valleys.

    Sugar Camp Road also offers ridge-top views of Ozark scenery. Located on the Ava-Cassville Ranger District, the 10-mile forest drive runs between Highway 112 near Roaring River State Park and Highway 86 near Eagle Rock.

  • Camping

    There are more than 40 campgrounds and picnic areas in Mark Twain. Campgrounds and picnic areas are usually located near a special attraction such as a spring. stream, lake, towering bluff or other scenic area. Float camps, only accessible by water, are available on the Eleven Point National Scenic River. Campgrounds and picnic areas vary from a few table sites to developed campgrounds. Some have walks, trails, and restrooms that are handicapped-accessible. Camping fees vary, with special fees for group camping or use of pavilions.

  • Fishing

    Mark Twain's streams and lakes contain over 200 species of fish, including bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, and catfish. Three of the Forest's spring-fed streams, Mill Creek, Spring Creek and Little Piney on the Houston-Rolla-Cedar Creek Ranger District, have wild rainbow trout populations. The Eleven Point National Scenic River on the Eleven Point Ranger District and the North Fork of the White River on the Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs Ranger District have sections stocked with Rainbow trout by the Missouri Department of Conservation. To possess trout, a Missouri trout stamp is required in addition to a Missouri fishing license. Some special regulations on size and limits apply. Lakes range in size from about 10 acres to the 440-acre Council Bluff Lake on the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District. Be sure to check bulletin boards for creel or length limits, and horsepower or other motor regulations. To preserve water quality, only electric motors are permitted on most of the lakes.

  • Hiking

    Throughout the Forest, many trails provide hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking opportunities, including 300 completed miles of the 500-mile Ozark Trail.

  • Historic Sites

    For more on historical information, call the forest offices.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horseback riding and camping is available on the forest.

  • Hunting

    The Mark Twain National Forest is popular with hunters, trappers, fishers, and people who enjoy observing, studying, and photographing wildflowers and wildlife. The Forest has about 175 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, and 70 species of amphibians and reptiles. Game species include whitetail deer, turkey, quail, woodcocks, doves, ducks, geese, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, opossums, woodchucks, bobcats, and coyotes.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    To find out where OHV use is permitted on the forest, consult a Motor Vehicle Use Maps. These nine maps are legal documentation displaying the roads and trails that are open to public motor vehicle use. If a road or trail you see on the ground does not appear on the maps, it means that it is not open to public vehicular use. The maps are reviewed and updated annually.

    All nine of the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) for the Mark Twain National Forest are available for review at the Supervisor's Office in Rolla. Copies of individual unit maps are available, free of charge, at the district office for that unit.

  • Picnicking

    There are many picnic areas throughout the forest.

  • RVing

    For more RV information, feel free to call Mark Twain NF offices in advance.

  • Water Sports

    The Forest has more than 350 miles of perennial streams, most suitable for floating with canoes, kayaks, rafts, and inner tubes. Some, such as the St. Francis on the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District, have seasonal whitewater but may be too shallow for floating most of the year. Floating offers close-up views of rocky bluffs, caves, springs, vegetation, birds, and other wildlife. Some favorite float streams are the Eleven Point National Scenic River, the Current, Big Piney, Gasconade, and North Fork Rivers.

    Swimming is also a popular activity. There are several little sandy beaches along the river which are accessible by boat. The Forest Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation maintain river accesses on the most popular streams. Private outfitters are available in most of these areas. Where waterways pass through private lands, permission of the owners is required before using their lands for camping and picnicking.

  • Wildlife Watching

    The forest has 75 species of mammals and 125 species of amphibians and reptiles. Game species include whitetail deer, turkey, quail, woodcocks, doves, ducks, geese, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, opossums, woodchucks, bobcats, and coyotes.

  • Winter Sports

    Ice fishing in available in winter.

Seasonality/Weather

Mark Twain NF lies in a Continental zone, with warm-hot, humid summers (70's-90's degrees F) and colder, damper winters (30s-50s degrees F). Layering is encouraged.

Directions

Driving

From Rolla, several State highways provide access to the forest. State highway 32/72 bisects the forest west to east and intersects with other highways providing north and south access.

Flying

The closest major airport to most of Mark Twain NF would be Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, approximately 94 miles away. From there, myriad car rental services are available, ranging from Alamo to National and beyond. For call 314-426-8000.

Public Transportation

Southeast Missouri Transportation Services offer curb-to-curb service across 20 Missouri counties, including in the Rolla area. For more information on fares and scheduling, call 573-364-7687.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(573) 364-4621

Links