Points of Interest
- See some of the largest glades in Missouri in a region with some of the largest dolomite glades on Earth.
- Look for colorful wildflower displays and fantastic views along the scenic byway road, the Glade Top Trail, that bisects this Natural Area.
- Keep your eyes open to see the greater roadrunner, prairie warbler, painted bunting, field sparrow, blue-winged warbler, yellow-breasted chat, and other birds that utilize this landscape.
Natural Features Description
This natural area is distinguished by its rugged character, outstanding vistas, and extensive dolomite glades, known locally as "bald knobs." The ridge tops are formed in residual chert of Mississippian era limestone while the open glades are formed from Cotter Formation Ordovician era dolomite. These glades are home to abundant wildflower species, along with native bees and butterflies. The prairie-like vegetation and the wildlife that depend on them need periodic prescribed fires to thrive. In the early spring look for shooting star and hoary puccoon blooms, followed by prairie clovers and yellow coneflowers in summer and then a splash of asters and goldenrods in the fall. Smoke trees that grow scattered along the glades often have brilliant fall foliage.
This Natural Area is within the Mark Twain National Forest. From Ava, Missouri, at the intersection of Highway 76 and Highway 5, travel south on Highway 5 for 3.8 miles and then turn right (west) onto Highway A. Travel 3.7 miles mainly south on Highway A to Smallett, Missouri. Here, turn left (south) onto County Road 409. Continue for 3.2 miles and veer right onto the Glade Top Trail road. The Glade Top Trail road bisects the Natural Area. A map and compass are recommended for exploring this area.