Mark Twain National Forest
Piney Creek Wilderness was designated in Public Law 96-550, on December 22, 1980, to be managed under the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1984. It is one of eight such areas in the state, seven of which are located on the Mark Twain National Forest. This 8,142-acre Wilderness is located in southwestern Missouri's Barry and Stone Counties on the Cassville Ranger District.
During the late 1800s several railroad companies logged the area extensively. Homesteaders and cattlemen followed the railroad and settled the area until the 1930s. Along the upper ridges, strawberry and tomato crops flourished. During the early 1950s the last family moved from the main Piney Creek drainage, and by 1960 there were no permanent residents within the area now designated Wilderness.
Ridgetops rising more than 400 feet above the hollows and streams dissect the area. Piney Creek, with its numerous small springs, is the principal stream. The entire five-mile-long watershed lies within the Wilderness. It empties into the James River arm of Table Rock Reservoir near the eastern edge of the area.
Oak and hickory trees dominate the upland slopes and ridges. Visitors will also be able to see some native shortleaf pine that stand out majestically on the steep side slopes and narrow ridgetops. The lower portions of the side drainages and bottomland contain small glade openings and old fields. Surrounding these within a small riparian zone along Piney Creek, other hardwoods such as sycamore, ash, elm, buckeye, and walnut live. Eastern red cedar grows on the lower slopes and the glades.
Wildlife here is the variety typical of the Missouri Ozarks. The white-tailed deer, gray squirrel, and raccoon are poplar game animals. Common furbearers and predators include the coyote, red and gray foxes, bobcat, and striped skunk. The armadillo also resides here. There is an interesting variety of reptiles in the area, including the poisonous copperhead as well as the western pigmy and eastern timber rattlesnakes. The wild turkey is the only game bird with a large population here. There are numerous species of nongame birds here, including the bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, turkey vulture, great blue heron, pileated woodpecker, crow, bluejay, titmouse, and various species of songbirds.
Five maintained trails totaling 13.1 miles traverse the Wilderness. Portions of the trail system use old woods roads; the other trail sections are newly constructed.
Piney Creek is accessible from several different directions. Travel west from Branson about 32 miles or east from Cassville about 20 miles and follow Lake Road 76-6 to reach the Pineview Tower Trailhead from the north. Highway 39 and Lake Road 39-1 will lead you to the southern boundary of the Wilderness.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication