Greer Spring is a magnificent site where a river wells up from a limestone spring in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. Greer Spring is a principle tributary to the National Wild & Scenic Eleven Point River. The Spring is a scenic treasure flowing through a rugged, forested, mile-long gorge before meeting the Eleven Point.
The lands surrounding Greer Spring contain an outstanding hardwood riparian woodland, one of the few extensive intact riparian forests in the Ozark region. For decades, conservationists tried to protect the Spring and surrounding land, but efforts failed due to uncertain management strategies. In 1991, Western Rivers Conservancy purchased the 6,900-acre property surrounding Greer Spring, transferred the land to the Mark Twain National Forest and worked to create a special management area.
The critical core of 1,500 acres around the Spring was included in the Eleven Point Wild & Scenic River corridor. The remaining 5,400 acres have become the Greer Spring Special Management Area, leaving the area safe from mining, commercial logging and road-building. The Anheuser-Busch Foundation contributed a major grant for the purchase.
Photo credits: Jerry Shelton, Neil Ellis
The central feature of the Greer Spring property is the spring itself, a spectacular water feature located in the Ozark Mountains and the second largest spring in Missouri. The spring flows from two openings discharging over 200 million gallons of water per day. The first opening is a cave in the side of a limestone cliff where the water emerges from the cliff wall. At the second opening, 300 feet downstream, the water rises rapidly to the surface of the stream making a spectacular effect reminiscent of a pot of boiling water. The water flows rapidly down a steep, narrow gorge for 1.4 miles to its confluence with the Eleven Point River.
Access to this heavily wooded area is mostly by foot. The exception is Long Hollow Road (County Road 413) which provides access to the western part of the property and to a sandy beach and a nice swimming hole on the Eleven Point River. The road is a primitive gravel road which is suitable for use by most automobiles. The U.S. Forest Service provides a small parking area at the end of the road.
The other prominent feature of the property is the Eleven Point Wild and Scenic River which bounds the northern edge of the property for eight miles. This river is a nationally renowned Scenic River and is very popular for canoeing. It is also a good warm water fishery subject to State of Missouri licensing, possession, and practice regulations.
Greer Spring can be accessed by walking down a mile long trail from a parking lot along Highway 19. Boaters can access the property between river miles 13.7 and 21.5 as shown in this Scenic River Travel Guide published by the Forest Service.
While the trail and the lands surrounding the spring are owned and managed by the Forest Service, the property immediately to the north of the trail is reserved for private use and access is not permitted. Visitors should take care to stay on the trail.
The property is managed by the Mark Twain National Forest. You can call the local Ranger District in Doniphan, Missouri at 573-996-2153 or the Forest Supervisor’s office in Rolla, Missouri at 573-341-7413.