Mark Twain National Forest

Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half ofMissouri. MTNF was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The MTNF covers approximately 1.5 million acres (6,100 km²), 78,000 acres (320 km²) of which are Wilderness, and National Scenic River area. MTNF spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri. MTNF is divided into six distinct ranger districts: Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs, Eleven Point, Houston-Rolla-Cedar Creek, Poplar Bluff, Potosi-Fredericktown, and the Salem. The six ranger districts actually comprise nine overall unique tracts of forests. Its headquarters are in Rolla, Missouri.
Some unique features of the Mark Twain include Greer Spring, which is the largest spring on National Forest land, pumping an average of 214 million gallons of water per day.The public can also visit the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, which offers views of over 30 miles (48 km) to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas.


In the 1870s, citizens of southern Missouri began an era of extensive logging of the state's native oak, hickory, and pine forests. Lumber mills were commonplace, but by the 1920s they had disappeared, along with much of the state's native forests. Thus, in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the MTNF into existence. In March 1933, he also created the Emergency Conservation Work Act, better known as theCivilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In the area that would later become Mark Twain National Forest, hundreds of young men at over fifty CCC sites worked at building roads and planting hundreds of acres of pine to preserve and enhance the natural resources of southern Missouri. Many of their contributions can still be visited and enjoyed today.

Wilderness areas

  • Bell Mountain Wilderness
  • Devils Backbone Wilderness
  • Hercules-Glades Wilderness
  • Irish Wilderness
  • Paddy Creek Wilderness
  • Piney Creek Wilderness
  • Rockpile Mountain Wilderness


Although it is far from being the largest National Forest in acreageMark Twain National Forest is located in more counties than any other. As of September 30, 2007, its 1,490,862 acres (2,329.47 sq mi, or 6,033.3 km²) were spread over parts of 29 counties in southern and central Missouri.


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