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Trail Guide: Queen City Hiking Heaven

Area Name: Springfield Conservation Nature Center

Trails: Savanna Ridge, Boardwalk, Fox Bluff, Long, Sycamore Cut-off, Photo Blind, and Ozark Greenways Connection

Unique features: 5-acre glade, losing stream and small spring, plus savanna, wetland and bottomland and upland forest

For more information: Call (417) 888-4237 or visit our online atlas, keyword, Springfield".

Visitors to the Springfield Conservation Nature Center can watch wildlife and learn about nature indoors or pursue outdoor adventures on five hiking trails. The Savanna Ridge Trail forms a loop north of the nature center. The 1.6-mile Long Trail meanders south from the northern tip of the Savanna Ridge Loop, traversing fields, Galloway Creek and the upper end of Lake Springfield. The .1-mile Photo Blind Trail leads to a wildlife viewing blind on the lake. Turn right after crossing the lake to the Boardwalk Trail, which delves into Springfield Lake’s marshy upper end before returning to the Nature Center. The Long Trail passes a losing stream, a small spring, and a glade. Fox Bluff Trail makes a .3-mile loop with benches overlooking Lake Springfield. All the trails are for hiking only—no bicycles or horses allowed.

Ice Palaces

Seeps and springs create structural marvels in winter.

Cold weather transforms seeps and springs into ice palaces that melt away days later. Visit these conservation areas (CAs) to see ice architecture. Bethany Falls Trail/Burr Oak Woods in Blue Springs, Maple Falls Trail at Bluffwoods CA in Buchanan County, Ironwood Hollow Trail/Sugar Creek CA in Adair County, Clifty Creek Natural Area (NA ) in Maries County, Bluff Creek Trail/Emmenegger Nature Park in St. Louis County, Pickle Springs NA in St. Genevieve County, Millstream Gardens CA in Madison County. Find these and other CAs in our online atlas.

Bootheel Birding

Winter is a hot destination in southeast Missouri.

If you think birding in Missouri is slow in winter, think again. Little River, Ten Mile Pond, Otter Slough, Duck Creek and other conservation areas in the Bootheel region teem with ducks, geese and other water birds in January, creating a spectacle worth the drive. Many waterfowl hunters already know they can find ducks of almost every description (not to mention snow, white-fronted and Canada geese) at these areas. Birders also might be interested in double-crested cormorants, horned grebes, black vultures, bald eagles, northern harriers, Wilson’s snipe and trumpeter swans. Tundra swans and golden eagles occasionally visit these areas, too. Look in thickets and forests around the wetlands and you might spy winter and Carolina wrens, brown creepers, cedar waxwings, pileated woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers or ruby-crowned kinglets. You can locate these and other conservation areas in southeastern Missouri by visiting our online atlas. Visit the links listed below for hunting information.

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