A long, narrow ridge (the backbone) supports the center of this Wilderness, with 1,020 feet at its highest elevation. Thirteen miles of maintained foot and horse trails follow the Devils Backbone and four other ridges, dropping off into surrounding hollows in a forest dominated by oaks, hickories, and shortleaf pines. In spring, dogwood, redbud, and service berry trees explode in flowering color. Then, in fall, the oaks, sassafras, and red maples turn yellow, orange, and red, respectively and delightfully. Three springs in the Wilderness (Blue, Amber, and McGarr) feed the North Fork White River, which flows through the area. North Fork Recreation Area on the northern boundary offers campsites and a canoe launch for the river. Blue Springs alone produces an average of seven million gallons of water per day. The water flows clear, but the Forest Service recommends disinfecting all springwater before drinking. The deer, fox, bobcats, skunks, squirrels, coyotes, and raccoons that prowl these parts are most often seen in limestone glades. The sky is often alive with eagles, hawks, owls, and vultures. Potentially threatening (but easily avoided) copperheads and eastern timber rattlesnakes are likewise commonly seen. From the North Fork Campground, a spur trail runs about one-fourth mile south to join the McGarr Ridge Trail, which crosses the area for approximately three miles. The McGarr Ridge Trail then joins the Collins Ridge Trail, allowing you to hike a loop that runs about 5.5 miles up and down the Devils Backbone. You should find the hiking moderate and backcountry camping is allowed, but subject to water and trail setback restrictions.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Devils Backbone Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Colorado Wilderness Act - Public Law 96-560 (12/22/1980) To designate certain National Forest System lands in the States of Colorado, South Dakota, Missouri, South Carolina, and Louisiana for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System
(No official title, boundary adjustment for Devils Backbone Wilderness) - Public Law 105-210 (7/29/1998) To make a minor adjustment in the exterior boundary of the Devils Backbone in the Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri, to exclude a small parcel of land containing improvements