Thorny Mountain

Open to the Public


Things To Do

Hiking, bird watching, wildflower viewing, exploring. View All

Plan Your Visit

Tips and guidelines for visiting this preserve. View All

Get Directions

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.


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




960 acres


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 the Conservancy 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 the Conservancy 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).

 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.

Preserve Visitation Guidelines


See the map (download printable directions [427Kb pdf]) below to determine your best route into Thorny Mountain from Rocky Falls. Please note that the only access to this preserve is on foot.You must be able to read a topographic map and use a compass as there are no trails. This is very challenging hiking and there are many opportunities to get lost. We advise hikers to access the preserve through Missouri Department of Conservation's Peck Ranch.


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Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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