Dark Hollow Natural Area
Visitors will appreciate this hidden gem in northeast Missouri. It lies nestled in the transition zone between savannas and prairies to the south and Spring Creek’s forested hills and bottoms to the north.
This 315-acre Sullivan County area offers opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. Deer hunting is allowed by archery and muzzleloader methods. Other upland game includes squirrel, rabbit, and turkey. With the variety of quality habitats, birding can be excellent during the spring and fall.
The area is also a designated natural area, recognized for its diverse, old growth forest. Julian Steyermark, author of Flora of Missouri, recognized this site as having value for its varied plant life in 1954. Visitors to the area will notice a tremendous diversity of tree species including oaks, hickories, basswood, sugar maple, and downy serviceberry to name a few. The forest also supports numerous wildflowers, including bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, liverleaf, and Solomon’s seal.
In spring, the lower north-facing slopes put on a show of ephemeral spring wildflowers, including spring beauty, bellwort, and Jack-in-the-pulpit. In contrast to the fern-rich forest of the ravine bottoms, the dry ridges support little bluestem, finger coreopsis, wild quinine, and other fire-adapted, shade-intolerant plant species found in prairies, savannas, and open woodlands.
Management of the area focuses on natural communities like savanna, woodland, and forest habitats that benefit a wide variety of wildlife. The southern third of the area is being restored to a savanna-woodland condition. A combination of prescribed burning, mechanical thinning, and invasive species control is used to develop and maintain this diverse open to semi-open habitat. A project to enhance and invigorate portions of the woodlands and forests has begun, with the primary goal of regenerating oaks to replace some of the 100- to 150-year-old trees that are beginning to die. Prescribed burning and mechanical thinning will be the primary tools used to accomplish the project.
To visit Dark Hollow Natural Area, take Highway 129 north from Green City for 1.75 miles, where Highway 129 makes a sharp turn to the west. Instead of heading west, head north on Hedge Drive (gravel) for 2 miles to the area parking lot on the right (east) side of the road. The area is accessible by a maintained field road that divides the area running east to west.
—Ryan Jones, area manager
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler