10 Scenic Mountains In Missouri

Written by Tracy Graham
Published: September 15, 2022
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The mountain in Missouri aren’t very tall, but they stand out in state that is mostly plains. Missouri is mostly flat and used to 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 carves out the plateau through the centuries by water and land movement that created mountains, lakes, and caverns all through the southern part of the state. Today the Ozark Plateau is a popular vacation area for people that love to spend time in nature.

Missouri has stunning rivers and beautiful mountains.

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10 Mountains In Missouri

The mountains in Missouri are great for a range of different hiking levels because they aren’t that tall. But, some of them are tougher than others to hike because they have steep elevations, lots of cliffs, or slipper rock slopes that can be a challenge for beginner hikers. The best hiking mountains in Missouri 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 getaway to get away from everything you can’t beat a stay at Taum Sauk State Park and a hike up Taum Sauk mountain.

There are 33 miles of the Ozark Trail in Taum Sauk State Park.
Taum Sauk mountain is the tallest point in Missouri.

©Steven Schremp/Shutterstock.com

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.

And 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.

In Missouri a “knob” refers to an isolated area and “lick” means salt spring or salt lick.
While it might sound funny, Knob Lick just means a remote area where animals can lick salt.

©Fulfilled Hope Images/Shutterstock.com

Hughes Mountain

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 centauries 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.

unique rock formations called Devil’s Honeycomb
Hughes Mountain and the Hughes Mountain Natural Area are made from 1.5 billion year old rock.

©Homeschoolmomshop/Shutterstock.com

Bald Knob

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 which 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.

Horseback riding trail
Because the summit of Bald Knob has no trees and has an easy ascent it’s a very popular place for horseback riders.

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Wildcat Mountain

Located in: Taum Sauk State Park

Height: 1,760 feet

Nearby City:  Middle Brook

Known For: Wildcat Mountain was 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. But since Taum Sauk is just a few feet taller it wins the title as the tallest mountain in Missouri. 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.

Wildcat Mountain is in Taum Sauk State Park.
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

©KevinDC/Shutterstock.com

Buford Mountain

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 pretty 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.

Fire Pit
There is a small primitive campsite at the summit of Buford Mountain if you want to spend the night up there and continue hiking the next day.

©Ana Hollan/Shutterstock.com

Bell Mountain

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 conversation area around it.

Ozark Trail
Bell Mountain is home to more than 12 miles of the popular Ozark Trail.

©GoldenField/Shutterstock.com

Proffit Mountain

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. And 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.

Hydration is key when hiking in the summer months.
Make sure that you have plenty of water because there are no real water sources on Profitt Mountain.

©diegorayaces/Shutterstock.com

Ketcherside Mountain

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 that 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 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 2 miles 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.

Mina Sauk Falls completely frozen in Winter.
Ketcherside Mountain is the home of the largest wet weather waterfall in Missouri, Mina Sauk Falls.

©Yinan Chen / flickr – License

Mudlick 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 are available for campers that even have built in fireplaces. 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. People were put to work building structures and cleaning 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 of the summit trail.

Patterson, Missouri
Mudlick Mountain is also a popular climb near Patterson, Missouri.

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 10 Tallest Mountains In Missouri

  • Taum Sauk Mountain
  • Wildcat Mountain
  • Lead Hill
  • Buford Mountain
  • Webster County High Point
  • Lead Hill West
  • Painter Benchmark
  • Bell Mountain
  • Proffit Mountain
  • Barry County High Point

Highest Point In Missouri

Taum Sauk Mountain -1,772 feet

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The Featured Image

unique rock formations called Devil’s Honeycomb
Hughes Mountain and the Hughes Mountain Natural Area are made from 1.5 billion year old rock.
© Homeschoolmomshop/Shutterstock.com

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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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