Mark Twain National Forest
From the upland cover of oak, hickory, and shortleaf pine and down the slopes into the bottomland hardwoods, diverse wildlife populations add movement to this natural setting. Whitetail deer are increasing, and hunting is popular. Foxes, raccoons, beavers, muskrats, turtles, and banded watersnakes are common near waterways and adjacent bluffs; and an occasional bobcat or coyote may be seen as well. The wild turkey, a popular game bird, is seen here at intervals, as well as the great blue heron and the bobwhite quail. Equally spectacular are the colorful pileated woodpecker and kingfisher, whose raucous tones combine with the chatter of squirrels to fill the atmosphere with an air of excitement. Many times you can hear and identify wildlife not plainly visible. This is especially evident at night along an Ozark river. It is an experience you will never forget. As you sit around the campfire, you may hear the sounds of frogs, birds, insects, coyotes, and other animals.
Spotted through the forest understory, fire pink, columbine, sweet william, and azalea mottle the landscape with vivid patches of color. Depending upon the season, other wildflowers and flowering shrubs such as flowering dogwood, redbud and sumac draw attention to the continually changing features of the landscape.
Most prominent, however, are the twisted and stunted skeletons of the cedars, their roots wedged like gnarled fingers into cracks and crevices along the bare-faced bluffs.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication