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.
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: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/regions/eastern/GladeTopTrail/index.shtml
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.