Danny's Missouri Backpacking & Hiking Trails Reviews

12 November 1997

Hercules Glades Wilderness - Mark Twain National Forest

Location: Southwest of Ava, Missouri with access to trailheads via Hwys 76, 160 and 125 that surround the wilderness area (Southeast of Springfield, Missouri and East of Hwy 65).

Distance: There are many options for hiking the six plus looped trails which are all interconnected. A large loop from either the East (Hwy 125) or West trailheads could comprise up to about 15 miles of hiking. The many cutoffs between the loops could be used to extend your hiking or shorten your trip if needed. There is over 30-miles of trail which can only be best described by looking the brochure that can be obtained from the Forest Service.

Water: Drinking water is not available at the trailheads and sources within the wilderness are not recommended for use. Bring your own water. Water might be available in some of the intermittant streams during wet times of the year.

Parking: Overnight parking is available at three designated trailheads, the Towersite trailhead just off Hwy 125 on the East side of the wilderness, Blair Ridge Trailhead a few miles to the southwest of Towersite Trailhead, and a third trailhead just East of Bull Shoals Lake on the West side of the wilderness area.

Comments: This Wilderness area in Taney County comprises over 12,315 acres. The area combines open grassland, forested knobs, steep rocky hillsides, and some narrow drainages areas. Eastern redcedar and oak trees combine with the open glades and native tall prairie grasses to provide a unique experience. The wildlife variety includes some uncommon residents such as roadrunners, collared lizards, and tarantulas. The elevation range exceeds 600 feet between the high points such as Pilot Knob and Coy Bald and the bottom of Long Creek. Only portions of Long and Cane Creeks contain water the year round. There are self-registration stations for backpackers and day use visitors at each of the wilderness trailheads.

Maps: An access map can be obtained from the Rolla Supervisor's Office, Mark Twain National Forest by calling 573-364-4621 or from the Ava Ranger District 417-683-4428. Quad Sheets: Hilda and Protem NE 7-1/2 minute Quadrangles 1:24000.

Cautions: Eastern timber rattlers and copperheads can be found in the area. Water little to none so bring plenty. This is also a horseback riding area.

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