Glade Top National Forest Scenic Byway

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

View of Caney tower from Caney picnic area along Glade Top Trail National Forest Scenic Byway.

Spanning 23 miles over Missouri's hill country, the Glade Top Trail travels narrow ridge tops of mixed hardwoods above a rolling countryside. Glades along the way provide habitat for some species not generally found in the Ozarks, such as the roadrunner and the Bachman Sparrow, a state endangered species. On the rocky glades you may also get a glimpse of a collared lizard if lucky. The glades also provide a beautiful pallet of colors - in the spring Indian Paintbrush, Missouri Primrose and Coreopsis will add to your drive; in the summer yellow and purple coneflowers will be pleasing to your eye; and in the fall the Smoke Trees will show their plumage of color. Many vistas provide awesome views along the Glade Top Trail. Points of interest along the trail include: Hayden Bald which offers travelers a picnic table and parking area: Smoke Tree Scene provides a pull off with a bench to take in the views: Corbitt Potter if one would like to disperse camp; Arkansas View offers a spectacular view to Arkansas and a table to relax; Watershed Divide offers a good photo op to see the countryside; Caney Picnic Area offers a a remarkable view, picnic tables, a vault toilet; and Willie Lee is another place to disperse camp and rest a spell; Wolf Junction offers a traveler a picnic table to rest and picnic at; and Big Creek Basin offers an impressive view. Close to the Glade Top Trail on the southwest end is the Hercules Glades Wilderness which offers trails for hikers and horses and dispersed camping - a vault toilet is present at the Hercules Tower Trailhead.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Year round.
Usage: Light-Medium
Closest Towns: Ava; Bradleyville; Brownbranch
Water: None
Restroom: Vault

General Information

Directions: From Ava, MO, go south on Hwy 5 for three miles to Hwy A, turn west on Hwy A and drive 4 miles to Smallett Junction, turn south on county road and go three miles to Forest Boundry and stay to the right and take Forest Road 147 until the junction of Forest Roads 147 and 149 - you may stay on Forest Road 147 and come out at Longrun, MO or turn right onto Forest Road 149 and travel til the gravel road ends at Highway 125.

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Camping & Cabins

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Horse Riding & Camping

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Nature Viewing

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Viewing Scenery

The Glade Top Trail is little changed from the original road constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930’s. For twenty-three miles, the two-lane, all weather gravel road follows narrow ridge tops rising approximately 500 feet above the surrounding rolling countryside, and overlooks and passes through many limestone/dolomite glades interspersed with open and closed woodlands and forests.  Along the trail are seven overlook “pull-outs” that provide panoramic views that reach to the Springfield Plateau twenty miles to the northwest and forty miles south to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas.In spring, smoke tree, serviceberry, dogwood, and redbud paint the glades and hillsides with blooming color. Each fall these scenic views are celebrated by local residents at October's "Flaming Fall Review", as vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds are displayed everywhere. After an infrequent snowfall, evergreens stand out in sharp contrast to the quiet dusting of white.

Viewing Plants


Glade Top Trail and Caney Picnic Area offer many opportunities to see wildflowers spring through fall, including purple and yellow coneflower, Missouri primrose, Indian paintbrush, prairie roses, prairie dock, and most butterflies' favorite, milkweed.  Missouri has among the greatest abundance and diversity of glades in the United States and the Glade Top Trail lies within the heart of some of the best remaining examples of this unique natural community.  There is a high diversity of both common and rare plants native to these glades, and some wildflowers that can be seen along the Glade Top Trail include Arkansas calamint (Satureja arkansana), aromatic aster (Symphotrichum oblongifolium), Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia caespitosa var. signata), Bush’s skullcap (Scutellaria Bushii), Gattinger’s goldenrod (Solidago Gattingeri), Missouri black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia missouriensis), Missouri evening primrose (Oenothera missouriensis), purple beardtongue (Penstemon Cobaea var. purpureus), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), rosinweed (Grindelia lanceolata), stenosiphon (Stenosiphin linifolius), silky aster (Symphotrichum sericeum), Spanish needles (Palafoxia callosa), Trelease’s larkspur (Delphinium treleasei), and yellow coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa).

For more information, see Celebrating Wildflowers:

Viewing Wildlife

Featured species and habitat: Songbirds/Perching Birds, Hoofed Mammals, Upland Birds, Carnivores, Insects, Reptiles & Amphibians, Birds of Prey, Small Mammals, Wildflowers  You could see a big gobbler turkey strutting for the ladies, turkey vultures preening on Caney's historic fire tower, deer munching on fresh new growth in meadows and glades, and a roadrunner doing a good job of outrunning both your vehicle and the lizards they love to eat. Bobwhite quail frequently startle as you meander by, rare collard lizards can sometimes be seen sunning on some of the prolific numbers of rock outcroppings, and many song birds can be observed all along Glade Top Trail whatever the season.


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