POINTS OF INTEREST:
Enjoy the colors of native grasses, asters and blazing stars growing in and amongst the oaks and pines.
Look and listen for colorful woodland song birds such as the summer tanager, pine warbler, red-headed woodpecker and great crested flycatcher.
Hike or bike 5 miles through and or along the boundary of the natural area.
Although St. Joe State Park is more popularly known for its former mining history and off-road vehicle recreation areas, this large state park (8,000+ acres), harbors on its south side a sizeable area of remnant savanna, woodland and glade natural communities that have been restored with selective thinning and prescribed fire for nearly 30 years. This includes shortleaf pine woodlands at the northern edge of their range in Missouri. These communities support over 400 native plant species, including two species of conservation concern, and 119 bird species have been documented. This 2,077-acre natural area encompasses most of the upper watershed of the Harris Branch creek system and its first order streams. The name of the natural area, Stellata, is the scientific epithet of post oak which is abundant on this area.
The easiest way to access the natural area is to use the hiking and biking trail. Two trailheads are located off of Pimville Road. From the intersection of Highway 67 and Highway 32, take the exit onto Highway 32 heading west towards toward Park Hills. From the Highway 67 and Highway 32 intersection stay west on Highway 32 for approximately 3.5 miles and look for Primville Road on your left (south) and a state park sign. Turn left (south) onto Primville Road and in approximately a half-mile you will see the Harris Branch trailhead parking lot. From here the hiking and biking trail enters the natural area. Continuing southeast on Primville Road there is another trailhead, the Blankshire trailhead, that also provides access to the natural area.