The Devils Backbone Wilderness is one of eight wilderness areas protected and preserved in Missouri. It’s part of the Mark Twain National Forest. The Devil's Backbone is a long, narrow ridge which sits above two valleys and provides a fabulous view in either direction. There are 13-miles of maintained trails to explore and many options that can extend your hike or exploration of this wilderness area. I’ve only spent a day hiking but others have spent the weekend or longer exploring the various trails and springs. Primitive camping, meaning using tents, not campers, is allowed.
There are various spur trails.
These trails lead to different parts of the wilderness including the one I traveled to the Ozark Trail. The walk along here was leisurely, as the trail is wide and relatively level. The climbs were moderate, although there is a fair amount of ridge walking. As you walk you will see caves of various sizes in the hillsides. There are some very rugged trails along the Devils Backbone and with elevations ranging from 1.020 feet to 680 feet, some trails are steep. There is also three designated trailheads that give access to the Devils Backbone Wilderness (Raccoon Hollow, McGarrr Ridge, Collins Ridge, as well as Blue Springs in the North Fork Recreation area.
Blue Springs is amazing and yes, it is this blue in color.
|Redbud and Dogwood in bloom|
Ozark Trail as well as Devils Backbone has year round hiking accessibility but the fall and the spring offer more temperate climates and lots of color. During the spring there are blooming dogwood, redbud, wild azaleas and the bright soft green of spring leafing. In the fall the oaks, sweet gum, and sugar maples offer bright colors of yellow, orange, and reds.
There are a lot of limestone glades and if you’re lucky, you'll spot white-tailed deer, gray and red squirrels, raccoons, coyote, red and gray foxes, and bobcats. Usually an armadillo or two and snakes. We do have two poisonous snakes, copperheads and eastern timber rattler, these tend to get out of your way rather quickly, and are easily avoided.
It’s not unusual to spot red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and bald eagles floating on the tail winds. Of course we have lots of wild turkeys. The forest is filled with songbirds and the walk is accompanied by the music of the birds, chatter of the squirrels, and various singing insects. Speaking of insects, we have the biting type like mosquitoes and ticks so using a good repellant (like deep woods OFF) is smart.
You’ll see many springs, creeks, rivers, and waterfalls.
The Ozark Trial and Devils Backbone is a gorgeous area to hike and visit.
Photos Missouri Dept of Conservation and personal