This medium-sized tan frog has square or rectangular spots in two parallel rows down the back. There is a wide ridge of skin along each side of the back. The general color is gray, tan, or brown. A white line runs along the upper lip. The spots on the back are reddish brown, dark brown, or black. There are prominent dark bars on the hind legs. The underside of the legs and groin area are washed with yellow, orange yellow, or pinkish yellow. The belly is white. Call is a low-pitched, descending snore lasting for several seconds.
Similar species: Missouri's three species of leopard frogs lack the pickerel frog's combination of having wide, unbroken skin folds along the back; two distinct rows of square or rectangular spots; and yellow or orange-yellow beneath the legs and groin area.