- The Missouri Mountains are less than 2,000 feet tall, but they offer great scenery and hiking trails.
- Trails might lead to stone cottages, rustic cabins, or places for primitive camping.
- Atop the mountains, you can find a salt lick, a honeycomb formation, or spectacular vistas.
The mountain in Missouri aren’t very tall, but they stand out in a state that is mostly plains. Missouri is mostly flat and used to be almost covered with Tallgrass, a native plant that can grow taller than a horse with a rider on its back. The Ozark Plateau, in the southern part of the state, is where the majority of the mountains in Missouri are located. History carved out the plateau through the centuries by water and land movement that created mountains, lakes, and caverns.
Today the Ozark Plateau is a popular vacation area for people who love to spend time in nature. The forested areas of the mountains contain many different animals and plants, including abundant deer and turkeys as well as endangered species such as the red wolf and several species of bats.
10 Best Hiking Mountains In Missouri
The mountains in Missouri are great for a range of different hiking levels because they aren’t that tall. However, some of them are tougher than others to hike because they have steep elevations, lots of cliffs, or slippery rock slopes that can be a challenge for beginners. The best hiking mountains in Missouri, though not all the tallest (see list below), are:
Taum Sauk Mountain
Located in: Taum Sauk State Park
Height: 1,772 feet
Nearby City: Middle Brook
Known For: Taum Sauk mountain is the tallest point in Missouri. It’s also one of only two mountains in Missouri that are actual mountains geologically. There is no peak on Taum Sauk mountain; at the top you’ll find a long ridge instead of a peak. But there is a large observation tower that you can climb to get a fantastic view of the Taum Sauk State Park that surrounds the mountain.
There are several fun hiking trails that will take you to the ridge top of Taum Sauk mountain including part of the famous Ozark Trail. There are 33 miles of the Ozark Trail in Taum Sauk State Park. The park also has fantastic rustic camping and lots of fishing as well as great hiking. If you’re looking for a family outing to get away from everything, you can’t beat a stay at Taum Sauk State Park and a hike up Taum Sauk mountain.
Knob Lick Mountain
Located in: St. Francois County
Height: 1,332 feet
Nearby City: Farmington
Known For: Knob Lick Mountain might have one of the funniest names of any mountain in Missouri but it’s also got one of the best views from the peak. In Missouri a “knob” refers to an isolated area and “lick” means salt spring or salt lick, like the kind animals lick to get the salt they need to be healthy. So while it might sound funny, Knob Lick just means a remote area where animals can lick salt.
Even though this mountain in Missouri might not seem like anything special, the forested sides of the mountain hide a stunning plateau at the top where there is a beautiful mountain glade, an observation tower to see the best views, and picnic facilities. There’s even a gravel road that you can hike up if you don’t want to hike on one of the mountain trails. It’s a popular spot for trail runners because of the gravel road, so you may have a lot of company depending on what time of the year you go.
Located in: Hughes Mountain Natural Area
Height: 1,200 feet
Nearby City: Irondale
Known For: Hughes Mountain and the Hughes Mountain Natural Area are some of the most interesting places in Missouri to visit. The mountain and the area around it are some of the oldest exposed rock in the entire United States. Hughes Mountain and the Hughes Mountain Natural Area are made from 1.5 billion-year-old rock.
Ancient volcanoes spit out lava and sediment that cooled into rock then split and cracked over the centuries to form the mountain and the unique rock formations in Hughes Mountain Natural Area. At the top of the mountain is a very unique honeycomb formation of small rock formations that are about three feet tall. It’s called the Devil’s Honeycomb. The trail to the top of Hughes Mountain is only a mile, but it’s a tough trail because the elevation is steep and it’s almost all rock. But if you can get to the top, the stunning sunset is worth the scramble.
Bald Knob Mountain
Located in: Buford Mountain Conservation Area
Height: 1,574 feet
Nearby City: Searcy
Known For: Bald Knob Mountain is named for the peak of the mountain that has no trees at all and provides great views. Because this mountain, like many of the mountains in Missouri, has more of a ridge on top than a peak, it’s used as a connector for many different hiking trails that run through the area. It’s part of the Buford Mountain Conservation Area and connects the Buford Mountain State Forest Trail with the Swan Creek Wilderness Trail. Because the summit has no trees and has an easy ascent, it’s a very popular place for horseback riders to bring their horses for trail rides and for mountain bikers. You can also find trail runners using this mountain quite frequently.
Located in: Taum Sauk State Park
Height: 1,760 feet
Nearby City: Middle Brook
Known For: Wildcat Mountain is very nearly the highest mountain in Missouri. It’s located right next to Taum Sauk Mountain in Taum Sauk State Park and it’s less than 20 feet shorter than Taum Sauk Mountain. There’s only about a mile and a half distance between these two mountains, so if you’re an experienced hiker you could probably hike both of them in the same day. If you’re camping in Taum Sauk State Park, it’s a nice family excursion to hike Taum Sauk Mountain one day and then Wildcat Mountain the next day.
Located in: Buford Mountain Conservation Area
Height: 1,739 feet
Nearby City: Bismarck
Known For: One of the most unique things about Buford Mountain is that the mountain is home to eight different lakes, and none of them have any fish in them. Climbing Buford Mountain is tough because it’s heavily forested and there are a lot of rocky cliffs. But if you can make it to the summit, the view of the surrounding Buford Mountain Conservation Area is spectacular. There is a small primitive campsite at the summit if you want to spend the night up there and continue hiking the next day, but there is also camping available in the surrounding conservation lands. The area is lacking in amenities though, so if you’re coming to camp make sure that you have all your supplies and extra water because there won’t be anyplace to restock nearby.
Located in: Mark Twain National Forest
Height: 1,703 feet
Nearby City: Belleview
Known For: Bell Mountain and the Bell Mountain Wilderness Area are very popular with hikers and campers. Bell Mountain is home to more than 12 miles of the popular Ozark Trail, so if you’re hiking Bell Mountain in the spring and summer you’ll probably have a lot of company. It’s a gorgeous area and the hiking is not that hard, so beginner hikers can do just fine.
Bell Mountain has mostly hickory and oak forest along with several different perennial streams and lakes. There are lots of different types of wildlife that you’ll see on Bell Mountain like white-tailed deer, rabbits, and many different kinds of birds. Just be careful and watch out for rattlesnakes! If you hike Bell Mountain in the fall, you’ll get to see some really beautiful autumn foliage in the old growth forests both on the mountain and in the conservation area around it.
Located in: Reynolds County
Height: 1,700 feet
Nearby City: Lesterville
Known For: Proffit Mountain is one of the tallest mountains in Missouri but it’s also pretty remote. It’s part of the Ozark Trail, so anyone hiking the Ozark Trail will hike from Proffit Mountain to the Taum Sauk Mountain. When you’re hiking the mountains in Missouri, you should be prepared for just about any kind of weather. Make sure that you have plenty of water because there are no real water sources on Profitt Mountain. You won’t be able to refill your water until you get closer to Taum Sauk Mountain, if you’re hiking on the Ozark Trail.
Located in: Ketcherside Mountain Conservation Area
Height: 1,696 feet
Nearby City: Ironton
Known For: Ketcherside Mountain and the Ketcherside Mountain Conservation Area are only a few miles away from Taum Sauk Mountain in the southern part of Missouri. This stunning conservation area has something for everyone who loves the outdoors. There’s a few miles of Ozark Trail plus other hiking trails, including trails to the summit of Ketcherside Mountain.
The area around the mountain has camping, hiking, biking, and more than a dozen ponds. Ketcherside Mountain is the home of the largest wet weather waterfall in Missouri, Mina Sauk Falls, which is well worth the hike up the mountain to see. The two-mile Royal Gorge Natural Area Trail is a fantastic trail for a family hike or for a short hike that is appropriate for beginner hikes. More experienced hikers can tackle the 14-mile hike from Ketcherside Mountain to the summit of Taum Sauk Mountain.
Located in: Mudlick Mountain Wild Area
Height: 1,309 feet
Nearby City: Patterson
Known For: Mudlick Mountain is a very popular area for camping thanks to three all-stone cottages that even have built-in fireplaces and are available for campers. All three were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government project started during the Great Depression as a way to create jobs for people who needed work. CCC workers built structures and cleaned up national parks and wilderness areas.
Mudlick Mountain is also a popular climb because it overlooks Big Creek, which flows through a nearby gorge. If you want picturesque views and a beautiful historical place to enjoy the outdoors, it doesn’t get much better than Mudlick Mountain. The trail to the summit is steep, though, and it can be a challenging climb for beginners because the trail gains 900 feet of elevation very quickly, and there are a lot of rocky forested parts on the summit trail.
9 Tallest Mountains In Missouri
- Taum Sauk Mountain
- Webster County High Point
- Buford Mountain
- Bell Mountain
- Proffit Mountain
- Johnson Mountain
- Brown Mountain
- Stono Mountain
- Black Moutain
Highest Point in Missouri: Taum Sauk Mountain – 1,772 feet
Summary Of The 10 Scenic Mountains In Missouri
|1||Taum Sauk Mountain|
|2||Knob Lick Mountain|
|4||Bald Knob Mountain|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Homeschoolmomshop/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the highest point in Missouri?
Taum Sauk Mountain, at 1,772 feet, is the highest point in Missouri.
Where can you find some of the oldest known rocks in the state?
Hughes Mountain and the Hughes Mountain Natural Area are made from 1.5 billion year old rock.
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