Glade Top Trail - Missouri Scenic Drives

23 Miles of Beautiful Landscape
Mark Twain National Forest's Glade Top Trail is Missouri's only National Scenic Byway. The 23-mile trail weaves though narrow ridgetops above the surrounding rolling countryside. Travelers are treated to numerous scenic views that reach the Springfield Plateau to the northwest and south to the St. Francis and Boston Mountains in Northern Arkansas.

The Glade Top Trail became a part of the National Forest Scenic Byways system in 1989. The system contains over 3,500 miles of scenic roads located in 27 states. Each Byway has certain features that meet the recreational, historical, educational, scientific, and cultural criteria required for designation.

The trail can be accessed from Ava, MO, by taking State Hwy. 5 south to State Hwy. A and Douglas County Road A-409. The trail can be accessed from the south by taking State Hwy. 95 just north of Longrun, MO, or from State Hwy. 125 about four miles north of the intersection with U.S. Hwy. 160.

Historically, the Glade Top Trail's significance is very important to many of the Douglas, Taney, and Ozark County residents who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. The trail has changed very little since CCC workers constructed the two-lane, all-weather gravel road.

Local residents have long recognized the scenic values of the area by sponsoring the "Flaming Fall Review" in celebration of the smoke tree's brilliant red/orange fall foliage. Each year in mid-October, the Ava Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Ava Lion's Club, American Legion, and VFW, celebrates the annual Review with a traditional barbecue and music festival.

Complementing the "Flaming Fall Review," a Spring Flowering Tour is annually sponsored by the Theodosia Area Chamber of Commerce. This tour highlights the dogwood, serviceberry, redbud, and wild fruit trees along the National Forest Scenic Byway.

Glade areas are characterized by shallow, droughty soils and limestone outcroppings. Eastern red cedar and oak trees are interspersed in open glades supporting native tall prairie grasses.

For the wildlife lover, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobwhite quail, squirrels, rabbits and numerous varieties of songbirds are prevalent within this section of the Mark Twain National Forest. The glades also provide a home for wildlife not often encountered in the Ozarks, such as the roadrunner, collared lizard, pygmy rattlesnake, stinging scorpion, and the Bachman's Sparrow, a state endangered species. Forest Service personnel can provide you with more information.

Points of interest and significant landmarks along the scenic drive include:

Hayden Bald - a State Natural Area at the north end of the trail
The Three Sisters - a trio of limestone bald knobs
Watershed Divide - where water flows east into the Little Northfork River and west into Beaver Creek
Caney Lookout Tower - a fire observation tower designed by one of Forest Service's first landscape architects in 1937
The Pinnacle - a small hill along the trail, the site of an old, unsuccessful gold mining effort
Caney Picnic Area - site of the "Flaming Fall Review" barbecue and music show

The National Forest Scenic Byways would not be nearly as successful if it were not for the cooperation of numerous interested individuals and companies, such as Plymouth Division of Chrysler Motor Corporation, Harley-Davidson, the American Automobile Association, The Garden Club of America, National Parks and Conservation Association, and others.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 18 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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