Places to Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: January 2017

Flag Spring Conservation Area

This 4,035-acre area in Barry and McDonald counties provides an array of outdoor winter activities, including hunting, hiking, horseback riding, and an unstaffed shooting range.

Flag Spring CA’s Ozark hills are mostly covered with forests and woodlands with some grassland, glades, and food plots. The area is crisscrossed with multiuse trails that allow for year-round hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. In winter, these activities allow visitors to see deeper into forested areas not visible in the summertime. Flag Spring is also home to two unmanned shooting ranges, one for rifles and one for shotguns.

One of my favorite parts of the area is located in the southeastern portion. Visitors can park just off Flag Spring Road, where the trail crosses, and begin hiking south into a mixed oak-hickory stand. Throughout the hike, you will encounter a small waterfall, woodlands, glades, and bottomland forest. Halfway through the hike, you will find the largest and oldest fields on the area that are host to a variety of plants and numerous birds and other wildlife. The area’s namesake spring can also be found on Flag Spring Road, near the southwestern corner.

Flag Spring offers a variety of other activities and accommodations for visitors. Four designated camping areas are open year-round. Firewood cutting is a popular activity in designated locations, permissible by a special-use permit. Hitching posts also can be found near many of the parking areas for horseback riders. On the eastern half of the area, visitors can access the multiuse trails leading to an old barn, which provides habitat to a variety of animal and bird species.

Deer are abundant on the area, and through direct conservation efforts, wild turkeys are now present and in good numbers. As you explore Flag Spring, you will notice a variety of habitat management strategies used over the years. Food plots are scattered through the area, which help supplement natural foods for wildlife. Timber stand improvement cuts have been implemented to help increase the plant/tree/food diversity for wildlife and ensure adequate food sources from oak acorns and hickory nuts. Flag Spring is also near the edge of the native range of shortleaf pine, so you will find many spots where it has been planted and is thriving. Through controlled prescribed fire, woodland and glade communities are being restored to the area.

—Cody Bailey, area manager

Flag Spring Conservation Area

  • Recreation Opportunities: Hunting, hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, wildlife and bird viewing, camping
  • Unique Features: Year-round flowing spring, unstaffed rifle and shotgun ranges, fishless ponds
  • For More Information: Call 417-895-6880 or visit

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This Issue's Staff

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