Location: Mark Twain National Forest, Oregon County Missouri, 16 miles south of Fremont, Missouri on the west side of Hwy J.
Distance: 18.6 (from Camp Five Pond)-19.5 miles of Hiking Trail, including spurs.
Water: Water is available along the trail at Bliss Spring, the Eleven point River, and at Fiddler Spring.15SEP00 - A reader recently let me know that the Brawley Pond is dry and has been dry for years so don't depend on it for a water supply!!
Parking: Overnight parking is available at two locations: the Camp Five Pond Trailhead and Picnic area just off Hwy J 16-miles south of Freemont; and, at Brawley Pond Trailhead one-mile southwest of Wilderness, Missouri.
Comments: This is another wonderful wilderness area in Missouri and offers moderate upgrades for backpacking. There are many nice areas to camp along the trail and no specific trailcamps are established. There are some wonderful views from the bluffs along the Eleven Point River at the mid-point of the trail and an established Whites Creek 'Float' Camp on the river near Whites Creek Cave. The trail length makes this trail ideal for staying around two nights since water is plentiful, the springs are 4-5 miles apart at the center of the trail, and the scenary along the river is spectacular. If you plan on hiking on the entire trail then I recommend starting at Camp Five Pond. If you are short on time then hike in and out from Brawley Pond as it is only 4.1 miles to Bliss Spring. If you try hiking the loop from Brawley Pond then you end up with a leg over ten-miles with no available water.
Maps: Trail maps available from the Doniphan Ranger District (573-996-2153), 1104 Walnut, Doniphan, MO 63935. Quad sheets: Wilderness, Handy, Riverton, and Bradley, MO, 7-1/2 minute USGS 1:24000 Quadrangles.
Cautions: Summertime ticks and heat, bring plenty of water. Group sizes are limited to 10 or less. Obtain the Forest Service Map for general information ! Black bears can be seen occasionaly since this wilderness is close to the Arkansas border. Also, depending on the season, expect coyote, bobcat, rattlesnake, copperhead, and cottonmouth as part of the wildlife that inhabits the Irish Wilderness. That's why I prefer hiking in the Spring and Fall !