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Trail Guide

Answer the Call of Wildcat Glades

Area Name: Wildcat Glade Natural Area & Wildcat Park

Trails: Bluff Trail (1.1 mi.), St. John’s Creek Trail (.83 mi.), Woodland Loop Trail (.33 mi., ADA accessible), Wildcat Glade Natural Trail (.6 mi.), Metro Trail (.6 mi.) and Rotary Centennial Trail (.33 mi.)

Unique features: Chert glade & Audubon Center

For more information: Call (417) 782-6287 or visit online

Visitors to Joplin’s Wildcat Park spend countless hours each year exploring nature, thanks to a partnership between the City of Joplin, the Conservation Department and Audubon Missouri. Wildcat Glade Natural Area and the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center form the nucleus of this outdoor paradise. Visitors enjoy walks over sun-drenched Wildcat and Silver Creek glades, through shade-dappled savannas or along bluffs overlooking Shoal and Silver creeks. At the Audubon Nature Center, they learn about the area’s diverse bird life and peer into a 1,300-gallon aquarium with rainbow darters, stonerollers, goggle-eye, gar and other aquatic life. The area is off Highway 86 just south of I-44 in Joplin. The nature center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

National Forest Adventure

Try a turkey hunting/floating combination trip this spring.

Nothing beats turkey hunting for excitement, but you can boost the adventure factor several notches by pursuing gobblers on a float trip through the 1.5-million-acre Mark Twain National Forest. Float-hunters wake up at their hunting spots instead of having to rise hours before dawn to drive there. Legendary float streams like the Big Piney, North Fork and St. Francis rivers flow through these federal lands, along with dozens of lesser-known but equally scenic streams. For maps, visit online, or call (573) 364-4621.

View Dogwoods in Comfort

Scenic drives make spring’s beauty accessible.

Although we usually think of autumn as Missouri’s season of splendor, our forests put on an equally impressive show each spring when native flowering trees bloom. The Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) and flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) are Missouri’s showiest trees, drawing attention from sightseers, artists and photographers. Redbuds blossom first, sending out rose-purple clusters late March through early May. Dogwood blossoming normally peaks in mid-April near the Arkansas border and two to three weeks later near Iowa. Several Show-Me State highways provide scenic backdrops for the annual display. These include Highway 19 between Montgomery City and Thayer, Highway 5 between Versailles and Gainesville, Highway 142 between Doniphan and Bakersfield, Highway 72 between Cape Girardeau and Rolla, I-44 between Eureka and Rolla, Highway 50 between Eureka and Jefferson City and Highway 60 between Poplar Bluff and Springfield.

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