St. Francois Mountain Tour - Missouri Scenic Drives

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1. Caledonia,
founded in 1816, had origins in fur trading and mining. More than 30 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Antique/craft country store, bed and breakfast, 1816 log house. Historic markers commemorate town history, Trail of Tears, and historic college location. Limited services for tourists.

2. Missouri Mines Historic Site, Flat River
is part of St. Joe State Park where old Federal Mill No. 3 once stood. One structure houses a mining museum with outstanding exhibits of geology, minerals, fossils, and lapidary art. An adjacent gallery contains pieces of restored underground mining equipment. Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources.

3. The 8,561-acre St. Joe State Park,
located on lands where most of the nation's lead ore once was mined, offers diverse recreation including camping, picnicking, hiking, swimming, fishing, and miles of bicycle, equestrian, and crosscountry ski trails. A 1,600-acre section is provided for off-road-vehicle use. The St. Joe Minerals Corp. donated the land to the state after the company ceased mining operations in the Lead Belt. Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources.

4. Bismarck Lake Wildlife Area
The 200-acre lake at Bismarck Lake Wildlife Area (on a gravel road off Highway N) provides good fishing. Concrete boat ramp. Water lilies fringe shoreline. Lake is on former ore company land. Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

5. Buford Mountain
The longest mountain range in Missouri stretches out to the left as the tourist drives south on Missouri Highway 21 between Caledonia and Graniteville. Buford Mountain State Forest covers most of mountain. Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

6. Elephant Rocks State Park
Kids of all ages enjoy climbing an enormous uplift of billion-year-old granite rock and playing among the "elephants," ancient weathered granite boulders that give Elephant Rocks State Park its name. Names of master stonecutters are carved on top boulders. A paved one-mile Braille trail for the visually and physically handicapped—and others—encircles a seven-acre Missouri Natural Area. Park includes two historic granite quarries. Restroom and picnic facilities. Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources.

7. Pilot Knob,
rich in Civil War history, is named for a knobby mountain topped by an old iron mine. A 90-acre tract, including the old mine, has been donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect a colony of endangered Indiana bats. Pilot Knob, the community, provides full services for tourists.

8. Fort Davidson,
in Pilot Knob, is a dirt-walled fort where a bloody Civil War battle was waged in 1864. Historic marker gives details. Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources State Historic Site.

9. Ironton,
located between Pilot Knob and Arcadia, all in the beautiful Arcadia Valley, is the county seat of Iron County and provides full services for tourists. Historic buildings.

10. Stout Creek Shut-ins,
on private land along Highway 72 just outside Ironton, is an example of a geologic feature that occurs when a stream is enclosed by rock walls. The granite wall along this stretch of highway was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

11. Lake Killarney,
the oldest man-made lake in Missouri, is an active fishing and boating area; however, it is a private lake development and community.

12. Boating and fishing access
to St. Francis River on the west side of Highway 72 bridge, south side of the highway. Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

13. Millstream Garden State Forest
(on gravel road off Highway 72) offers prairie grass demonstration plots, hiking trails, steep hand-launch boat access to a whitewater stretch of the St. Francis River. Restroom and picnic facilities. Two-mile trail leads to Turkey Creek Picnic Area at Silver Mines Recreation Area. The riverside garden trail is part of a Missouri Natural Area. Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

14. St. Francis River
Whitewater trips (in spring season) downstream from Millstream Gardens offer challenges for the experienced kayaker and canoeist. Access is from Highway 72 bridge (Item No. 12), at Millstream Gardens or Turkey Creek. Access for hikers is from the streamside trail or the north loop of Silver Mines Turkey Creek trail.

15. Silver Mines Recreation Area
Once the site of the Einstein Silver Mining Company and mining town, Silver Mines Recreation Area is popular with rockhounds and amateur geologists. Riverside and hilltop camping and picnicking. Group camping areas. Fishing. One-mile self-guided trail includes shut-ins and old dam on the St. Francis River. Mark Twain National Forest.

16. Fredericktown
The county seat of Madison County is built around an historic brick courthouse and square with an historic marker detailing the town's origins. Full facilities for tourists. Historic buildings, an annual Azalea Festival and annual Firecracker Fourth in Memorial Park are tourist highlights. Mark Twain National Forest district office is located at the intersection of Highway 72 and Highway 00.

17. Fredericktown City Lake,
the city reservoir, has access off Highway OO. Facilities include boat access and, continuing around the lake, a park with picnic shelters, tennis courts, playground, and hiking trails. Popular fishing spot. Some facilities provided in cooperation with the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

18. Cherokee Pass
has displays of Indian artifacts in its motels and restaurants. Cherokees, forced out of their homelands in Georgia and the Carolinas, passed near here on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma reservations.

19. Gravel road up Little Grassy Mountain
to Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness has scenic views of distant valleys and mountains.

20. Stone marker on top of Little Grassy Mountain
notes entrance to 4,159-acre Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness extending to the south. Last section of gravel road to mountain top is steep. Trailhead into wilderness. Mark Twain National Forest.

21. Undeveloped boating
with fishing access along St. Francis River. Mark Twain National Forest.

22. Shut-ins on Little Rock Creek,
visible along the north side of Highway E, are on Mark Twain National Forest land. Mountains to the north of Highway E, part of 20,000 acres of national forest land, are used for non-motorized recreation. One area popular with hikers, Dark Hollow, has a deep canyon guarded by rugged rocky outcroppings. Access to the area is via Wolf Hollow. Other accesses to the area are at Silver Mines Recreation Area and Black Mountain. Mark Twain National Forest.

23. Marble Creek Campground
provides fishing, wading, camping, and picnicking. Shallow Marble Creek is boulder-strewn. Scenic trail encircles the campground, borders creekbank. Shut-ins about one-fourth mile upstream from campground. Ozark Trail access. Mark Twain National Forest.

24. Crane Lake
The 99-acre Crane Lake is about four and a half miles off Highway E on a gravel road. Boat access (electric motors only), waterfront picnic area. Restrooms. No drinking water. The five-mile double loop Crane Lake National Recreation Trail crosses a variety of environments. Ozark Trail access. Mark Twain National Forest.

25. Taum Sauk Mountain,
at 1,772 feet, is the highest peak in Missouri. Picnic sites. Scenic attractions are Mina Sauk Falls (132 feet), highest falls in Missouri, and Devil's Toll Gate, a narrow cliff-bounded passage that was a road through the area and a portion of the Trail of Tears. Access to Taum Sauk Trail. Future access to Ozark Trail. Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

26. Royal Gorge,
to the east of the highway, is a Missouri Natural Area within the Ketcherside Mountain State Forest. Granite wall built by CCC. Claybaugh Creek (Ozark Trail) Trailhead. Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

27. Ketcherside Mountain,
part of the Mo. Dept. of Conservation's Ketcherside Mountain State Forest, is just south of Royal Gorge on the east side of the highway.

28. Pulloffs on County U up Proffit Mountain
provide a good view of Union Electric Power Plant's dam and lower reservoir. Boating, fishing is permitted on the lower reservoir in cooperation with Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

29. Near the top of Proffit Mountain,
Union Electric provides picnic areas and an informative nature, archaeology, and geology museum where samples of Missouri's diverse natural resources are exhibited. Displays also explain Union Electric's unique pumped storage hydroelectric plant.

30. Upper Reservoir
A short drive farther up the mountain takes you to the upper reservoir of Union Electric's plant on the top of 1,590-foot Proffit Mountain. The reservoir covers 55 acres and holds 1.5 billion gallons of water. Visitors can talk into the tunnel under the reservoir and hear echoes. Ozark trail access on top of Proffit Mountain.

31. Lesterville,
with full services for tourists, has a variety of private resorts and facilities related to water recreation. The east, middle, and west forks of the Black River converge in the area for floating, swimming, fishing, and camping fun.

32. Johnson's Shut-ins State Park
features the rock-walled narrows of the East Fork of the Black River, which drops significantly in this area. The 2,490-acre park is a popular picnicking, camping, fishing, swimming, and hiking spot. The park includes three Missouri Natural Areas. Access to Taum Sauk Section, Ozark Trail. Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources.

33. Centerville,
founded in 1812 by fur traders, is the county seat of Reynolds County. Located on the West Fork of the Black River, the town's attractions include an historic courthouse, old jail, and a privately-owned overshot water-wheel gristmill. Limited services for tourists.

34, 35. Scenic vistas
along Low Gap Ridge and Karkaghne Drive (Forest Road 2233) overlook distant Bell Mountain Wilderness. Karkaghne Drive, the longest undeveloped stretch of road in the state, was named for a mythical creature in forest folklore. Mark Twain National Forest.

36. Karkaghne Drive
Roads through a heavily forested and hilly Mark Twain National Forest area along the Karkaghne Drive can be used for all-terrain vehicle recreation.

37. Sutton Bluff Campground
(Forest Road 2236 off Forest Route 2233, both gravel roads) on the West Fork of the Black River features remote riverside camping, fishing, and swimming along a scenic section bounded by steep bluffs and wide gravel bars. Hiking along 1.5-mile Sutton Bluff Trail. Access to Karkaghne Section, Ozark Trail. Mark Twain National Forest.

41. Council Bluff Recreation Area's
extensive facilities include Wild Boar Ridge Campground, Chapel Hill Beach area for picnicking and swimming, and Wild Boar Hollow Boat Launch (10 hp. motor limit). The beach has a toddler playground. The 440-acre Council Bluff Lake, surrounded by thick forests, was created by damming Big River. Mark Twain National Forest.

42. Timber cutting
on National Forest lands along Highway DD involves 15-acre or smaller clearcuts to regenerate oak/hickory forests and provide wildlife forage and cover.

43. Fishing
is available on Palmer Lake, a water storage lake at a former barite mining area on a gravel road one-half mile off Highway C. No facilities. Mark Twain National Forest.

44. Palmer Church
historic building, a relic of the former mining town of Palmer, is a picturesque photographer's subject. Mark Twain National Forest property leased to a church group under special use permit.

45. Hazel Creek Campground,
about one mile west of Palmer Church along the gravel road that continues past the end of Highway Z (end of pavement), has three primitive campsites and is an access point to the Trace Creek Section, Ozark Trail. Mark Twain National Forest.

46 Howell Lake,
a small water storage lake off Forest roads 2247 and 2423 (gravel roads), provides fishing opportunities. Mark Twain National Forest.

47 Parole Lake,
also off Forest roads 2247 and 2423, provides fishing opportunities. Mark Twain National Forest. Palmer, Howell, and Parole lakes are surrounded by reclaimed mining lands.

48. Potosi,
county seat of Washington County, is in the historic mining district of southeast Missouri. Named for a Spanish mining town in Bolivia, it was famed for its barite, or "tiff," mines after the Civil War. It has historic buildings, an historic museum, and an historic cemetery containing the tomb of Moses Austin, called the "Father of Texas." Historic marker on east edge of town. Full services for tourists. Potosi Ranger Station is on Highway 8 west of Potosi.

49. The YMCA of the Ozarks
is owner of a 3,500-acre recreation complex on the shores of 350-acre Sunnen Lake. Visitors may stop at the lodge for dining, a tour of the facilities, or a schedule of day-use fees.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 18 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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