Hike, view wildlife and enjoy wildflowers at one of Missouri’s “original landscapes” in Jefferson County.
Ever wondered what the area around St. Louis looked like when the French settlers arrived? If so, you’ll enjoy hiking the Valley View Glades Natural Area in Jefferson County. The Department of Conservation acquired the rugged, rocky, lightly used property in 1982. As a result of light impact, long-term protection and sustainable management, this 227-acre designated natural area remains one of the richest examples of dolomite glades in the Ozark border region.
Unfamiliar with the term glades? They’re a type of desert-like habitat with thin, rocky soils. Dolomite is a kind of sedimentary rock, sometimes called magnesium limestone. Glades and associated woodlands include several different kinds of microhabitats, and these provide many niches for plants and wildlife. Consequently, Valley View Glades, with everything from stream ledges to dolomite outcroppings, is home to more than 250 native plant species and 25 native butterfly species. It also supports many kinds of snakes and lizards, as well as larger animals, such as deer and turkey.
The area still has many of the plant species Europeans found when they arrived in the 1600s. Native grasses include little bluestem, Indian grass, big bluestem and prairie dropseed. Native wildflowers provide good wildlife food and add beautiful color to the glades during peak bloom in early June and throughout the growing season. The Fremont’s leather flower, one of the glades’ most interesting plants, occurs only in this part of Missouri. Wildlife finds value in the area’s small pockets of dry, cherty, blackjack-oak-dominated woodlands.
Managers use periodic prescribed burns and occasional thinning of eastern redcedar and other woody plants to restore and maintain the area’s natural diversity. Without this management, redcedar would take over the glade-adapted plants, and wildlife would decline. In centuries past, fires lit by Native Americans and lightning kept these mini-deserts open and diverse.
The 2.5-mile Valley View Glades Trail provides hikers a nice loop through the glades, associated woodlands and wildflowers. Hunting is permitted in season.
To reach the area, travel west on Highway B from the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway B in Hillsboro for 4.5 miles to the parking lot on the right (north) side of the road. As always, check the area’s website, listed below, for notices, regulations and more information before traveling.
—Bonnie Chasteen, photo by Noppadol Paothong
Recreation opportunities: Birding, hiking, hunting in season, outdoor photography and nature viewing
Unique features: 2.5-mile trail loop through dolomite glade
For More Information: Call 636-458-2236 or visit mdc.mo.gov/a8213.
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler