Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness Area Trail

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Rockpile Mountain Wilderness

Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness Area Trail is a 10.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Fredericktown, Missouri that features a great forest setting and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,528 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash





washed out

An ancient circle of granite rocks, erected by early man, marks Missouri's smallest Wilderness area. The 4,238-acre Rockpile Mountain Wilderness is primarily a broken ridge, with steep limestone bluffs, rock formations, and caves along the St. Francis River. From the trailhead there is a two-mile section of maintained trail which is often steep (rated Moderate), where elevations range from about 1,300 feet to 520 feet. The rest of the area is accessed by old roads and by cross-country hiking. The area is within the St. Francois Mountains. Backpack camping in the wilderness area is allowed.

3 months ago

Loved this trail! It is long, rugged and tough! Bring a GPS!

off trail
Sun Mar 10 2019

Hard to stay on trail like everyone else said. Mile 4ish if you loop right trail disappears. Bring GPS.

Mon May 07 2018

First you should know the road up to the trail head is washed out so don't expect to get there with a car or anything with low clearance. We had actually rented a Ford 250 so had no issues other than a bit of a bumpy ride up. We did find the trail head just fine. I would suggest taking a GPS as though we were able to find the trail and stay on it there were certainly times where the trail was questionable and no markings to keep you on it. Some steep inclines/declines but not an overly difficult trail if you are in shape which if you are going to do an 11 mile hike I would like to think you should be. Saw several turtles along the way but that was it for wildlife. Was a little underwhelmed by the rockpile but that may have been more of my high expectations. It was a fun hike and I will definitely be back to do more trails in the area.

Mon Nov 27 2017

It took us at least 90 minutes to even find the trail. The GPS had us turning down roads that didn't exist, then rerouting us to gravel single lane roads that went nowhere. After circling the area once looking for a brown sign...we tried a gravel road we had turned around on once already and decided to just park the car and walk that road, which was CR 2124 that turned out to be the right road. There are no brown markers or any kind of signs till you get to the trail head The road up there is so washed out, don't try it unless you have a jeep. We didn't go far on the trail itself because it started heading downhill again and it was getting late. We backpacked this trail 20 years ago and it seemed in a lot better condition were a lot better condition. haha

Sun Jul 02 2017

Nice trail for solitude, but it is a trail I would not recommend for the casual hiker. Go prepared. The trail is hard to follow at times and very rugged at times. Lots of down trees and overgrown in several spots. You could easily get lost. If you pack, take water, there is almost no water. Hang your food to protect from pigs and bears. NOTE: Road to trail head is heavily washed out in several spots.

Wed Feb 18 2015

If you enjoy a solitary hike through the woods and you're able to navigate with a compass and map (or a GPS) this may be just the hike you're looking for. I hiked this area back in May of 2014 and wrote a blog entry on it here: The total loop is around 12.5 miles or so, but seriously, it's best to hit up the sort 8 mile in and out to the top of Little Grass Mountain to see the "Rockpile" there. The trail is sparse, unmarked, and occasionally, non existent. WARNING: People do get lost out here, on our journey we met another local hiker who told us the blazes we found were left by the fire department who had been called in to rescue some lost hikers near the top of Little Grassy Mountain a few months prior to our hike. There have been black bears spotted in the area, although we did not see any evidence of them on our hike (and I really looked as we traveled, hoping for a little something) so be careful with food stuffs if you plan to camp, best to tree it outside of camp as opposed to having a hungry hair behemoth in your camp. The "Rockpile" itself is pretty interesting, despite how it may or may not have been made. Makes a good spot to take some pictures. But the area reminds me a bit of Buford Mountain here, no awe inspiring vistas to be had do to all the trees, but still worth the hike. Personally, I loved the solitude and peacefulness of the area, I couldn't hear cars, loud hikers, or any man made sounds other than my boots on trail... Cell Reception: Pretty much ZERO once you leave the trailhead although, I did get a bar on the top of Little Grassy Mountain. Which happened to be another reason for my love of this area :)

Sun Sep 08 2013

This trail starts on Little Grass mountain which is actually slightly higher than Rock Pile. You drop off Little Grass (about 300 ft) and follow a trail along the ridge tops to Rock Pile. The trail is not well marked and there are many blown down trees in the area the force to you to leave the trail and pick it back up. Be careful when you do this since there are other trails/roads in the area and you may pick up the wrong trail (I did this twice and had to "backtrack"). The top of Rock Pile has a circular pile of rocks of unknown origin. I prefer to think this ring as made by prehistoric man for celestial ceremonies. The less romantic idea is a bunch of drunk kids decided to do this as a farce. This is suppose to be a loop trail according to all the printed literature. However, there is no loop. Once you leave the glades at the apex of Rock Pile mountain, there is a faint trail that goes west (or old overgrown road) that does lead you to a small pond. You can still see a faint road at this point going north and south. Going north this road completely disappears. No road and no markers. You end up going cross country until you pick the road up again on the top of the ridge on the other side of of Cave Branch creek. So be sure and use you GPS to follow the road that is suppose to be there. I always bring a map and compass as backup. However, I also have an Anker high capacity battery that will charge my iPhone multiple times to ensure I have access to GPS. The is no cellular phone service in this area once you leave the trail head. The under story is not too dense but the going is slow because of the number of blow downs and frequent checking on your bearings. This trail would be best to hike once the leaves drop. There is no vista from the top of the mountains which is somewhat anti-climatic.

2 months ago

2 months ago

Sat Nov 25 2017