Special Places

Hercules-Glades Wilderness

Hercules Glades Wilderness Area is 12,413 acres of the most scenic and unique country in the Midwest. Its combination of open grassland, forested knobs, steep rocky hillsides, and narrow drainages offers unusual beauty and a measure of solitude within easy reach of wilderness lovers. The area is characterized by shallow droughty soils and limestone rock outcroppings. Eastern red cedar and oak trees are interspersed with open glades supporting native tall prairie grasses. Redbud and dogwood provide beautiful spring flowers, while smoke tree and maple put on vivid fall colors. A variety of wildlife species live within the Hercules Glades including white-tailed deer, raccoons rabbits, squirrels, turkey, quail, songbirds, lizards and snakes. Copperheads and rattlesnakes may be encountered. Roadrunners, collared lizards, tarantulas, wild hogs and black bears are some of the more uncommon wildlife residents.

A printable brochure (3.2m pdf format) is available for download

Trails: From the trailheads there is 32 miles of maintained trails which follows along open glades, forested ridgetops and Long Creek, the primary drainage of the area. Cross country hiking in other parts of the area is allowed. Key attractions along the trail include Long Creek Falls, panoramic views of the Ozarks countryside, and a variety of native communities including open limestone glades and mixed forests.

Rating: More Difficult to Most Difficult with steep terrain, stream crossings, sparsely marked trail, and elevations from 600 to 1200 feet.
Length: 32 miles
Best Seasons: Fall, winter, and spring.
Leave No Trace: Pack out what you pack in.
Restrictions: Foot and Horse only.
Safety: No drinking water is available at parking areas or along the trail; bring what you will need, or be prepared to sterilize water you find. During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects, poison ivy and high temperatures. Be advised of hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods.
Surface Type: Unsurfaced, native material.

Other Activities: Backpacking, bird watching, and primitive camping.

Camping: Dispersed camping allowed except within 100 feet of an established trail, stream, body of water, cave, rock shelter, other occupied campsites. Practice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. To protect solitude, seek campsites that are out of site and sound of trails and other camps. Do not build rock fire rings, extinguish all fires and naturalize the site. Never tie stock directly to trees. Bury human and stock waste.

Safety: Wilderness has inherent dangers, and is a primitive setting where you meet nature on its own terms. Bring a map and compass, and first aid kit. During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects, poison ivy and high temperatures. Be advised of hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods. Be sure to tell someone your plans, don’t hike the wilderness alone and carry extra supplies so you are prepared to take care of yourself in case you get lost, injured, or delayed.

Nearby:
North Fork Recreation Area
Noblett Lake Recreation Area
Blue Buck Knob National Forest Scenic Byway
Bull Shoals Lake, Table Rock Lake State Park, Branson, MO.

How to get there:

From Bradleyville, MO, take Hwy 125 south 8.5 miles to Hercules Tower trailhead, where you will enjoy a Panoramic view of the wilderness from its highest point. There is a vault toilet, space for camping and parking at this location. The first part of the trail is mostly level, then it descends a slope to Long Creek. Or, take the 4-mile Pees Hollow loop north along the hollow bottom, then back along the ridge.

From Forsyth, MO, take Hwy 160 east 7.5 miles to County Road 160-200; go north 2 miles to Coy Bald trailhead. Parking, space for camping and a rustic toilet at this location. Here, you can enter the west side of the wilderness. From Coy Bald, you have several choices of trails and loops.

From Bradleyville, MO take Hwy 125 south to Forest Road 155 to Blair Ridge trailhead, which provides park area. Descend the ridge to the northwest to Long Creek, and take your pick of several trails and loops.

Open year-round
No charge. Please limit your party size to 10 persons.