Hughes Mountain

Page Type
Mountain/Rock
Location:
Missouri, United States, North America
Activities:
Hiking
Season:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Elevation:
1200 ft / 366 m
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Hughes Mountain
Created On: Sep 14, 2015
Last Edited On: Sep 15, 2015

Overview

If you find yourself in the St Francois Mountains of the Missouri Ozarks, you have a short but geologically fascinating option in Hughes Mountain.  Unusual for the area, you get 360 degree views and a rocky approach and summit.  And what rocks!  The granite and rhyolite was originally extruded by volcanic activity 1.48 Billion years ago has fractured vertically into columns which are distantly related to those found in places like Devil’s Postpile in California.  Not as scenic as that national monument, it is still well worth the trip to explore.  Here in Missouri, it is called ‘The Devil’s Honeycomb’, though to me the columns are more frequently square than hexagonal, and seem to be lodged in a gray matrix. 

Hughes Mountain Granite/Rhyolite
Hughes Mountain Granite/Rhyolite
  

The mild class 1 and 2 hike up Hughes Mountain, protected as the Hughes Mountain Natural area by the Missouri department of conservation, is only ¾ of a mile to the summit, but has a unique feel.  Large swaths of Hughes Mountain are covered by these ‘honeycombs’, giving the area an unearthy vibe.  You will almost certainly have solitude in this less traveled part of Missouri.

If you are in the area, I would definitely make time for this spot.


Getting There

You have to work a bit to get to this Natural Area as some of the roads are almost criminally unsigned.  Starting from Farmington, the nearest big town, take route 32 west to Old Irondale Road and turn right (North).  Once in the very small town of Irondale, turn left on County M (not signed that I could see), and travel several miles west until you see the Hughes Mountain Natural Area on the left (south).  It is signed.


This Hughes Mountain Map gives a good idea of vicinity and the initial route from Highway M.

Hughes Mountain's Unimpressive Trailhead
Hughes Mountain's Unimpressive Trailhead



Route

The trailhead immediately plunges you into first brush then forest. You will travel about about half a mile and 300 feet up through the trees before you break out onto the long sloping plateau of Hughes Mountain.  The way up is clear. 
 
Sloping Plateau of Hughes Mountain
Sloping Plateau of Hughes Mountain


Devil's Honeycomb
Devil's Honeycomb

Typical Hughes Mountain Moonscape
Typical Hughes Mountain Moonscape

Nearing the Summit
Nearing the Summit

Hughes Mountain Summit Rocks
Hughes Mountain Summit Rocks

Looking Back Down Hughes Mountain
Looking Back Down Hughes Mountain

Getting back down may be a different story.  The Natural Area is larger than it appears, and the rocks on this lunar landscape all look very similar.  Once we got to the woods/rocks border, we could not locate the trail that led back through the woods to the parking area.   This lead us to a blind plunge northward through the brushy forest and back to Highway M, and several encounters with spiderwebs, some complete with spider.  It took us 2 miles of mistaken exploration (‘I’m sure its to the east’) to find the parking area from where we emerged. 

Hughes Mountain Off Route Flora
Hughes Mountain Off Route Flora
Hughes Mountain Off-Route Fauna
Hughes Mountain Off-Route Fauna


Red Tape

The natural area is closed from 10 PM through 4 AM.


When to Climb

My friend and I climbed in 96 degree high humidity heat.  Don't climb then.  Most anytime else fine.


Camping

Not here.


External Links












Hughes Mountain

Mountain/Rock
11 Images 1 Climber's Log Entries 4 Comments 0 Additions & Corrections

Geography

MyTopo Map Nearby Mountains & Rocks Interactive Map Mountains & Rocks in Missouri

Parents

OzarksMountains & Rocks
 
St. Francois Mountains (MO)Mountains & Rocks