Places We Protect

Thorny Mountain


Blazing star at Thorny Mountain preserve
Thorny Mountain Blazing star at Thorny Mountain preserve © Courtesy of National Park Service

Thorny Mountain is surrounded by stunning Ozark scenery.



Thorny Mountain is within a region identified as having one of the most significant concentrations of biodiversity in midcontinental North America, containing a vast number of different species of plants and animals. The area is rugged and remote but worth the effort to explore.

Why You Should Visit  

Thorny Mountain provides experienced, adventuresome hikers an excellent opportunity to escape to a remote Ozark landscape. However, this is a very challenging trek and visitors must be able to traverse rugged woodland terrain and be able to use a compass and topographic map.

It is bounded on the south by Peck Ranch Wildlife Area, west by Ozark National Scenic Riverways, east and north by Mule Mountain State Forest.


A large woodland encompasses most of the preserve, and an igneous ridge with steep slopes scattered rhyolite glades makes for rugged hiking. There are no trails. Access to the preserve is on foot and requires hiking miles of woods and creek crossings, in addition to climbing a barbed-wire fence.

Why TNC Selected This Site  

This preserve lies within a region identified as one of the most significant concentrations of biodiversity in the mid-continental region. The rhyolite glades are part of the largest igneous glade complex in the Lower Ozarks.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

Prescribed fire and ecologicial monitoring, conducted in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the National Park Service, is benefiting a number of species, including collared lizards (which have recently begun to re-colonize Thorny Mountain).






Hiking, bird watching, wildflower viewing, exploring


960 acres

Explore our work in this region

What to See: Plants

The preserve is dominated by woodland and glades that harbor over 250 native plants, including wild hydrangea, orange grass and prickly pear cactus. Wild hyacinth blooms on the glades in spring. Common woodland mammals and reptiles can be seen by the careful observer. 

Check the local weather forecast. Long pants and sleeves, hiking boots and hat are recommended. Drinking water, compass and topographic map are absolutely necessary. During warm weather, light color and light-weight clothing is suggested. Repellent, binoculars and field guide(s) are also worth bringing.