Places To Go
Buford Mountain State Forest
Discover challenging hiking, scenic views and good hunting at this rugged, little-known gem.
Hearty winter visitors will find many attractions at Buford Mountain State Forest in Iron and Washington counties. Remnants of the area’s early timber industry will intrigue history buffs, and more than 10 miles of trails, including an interior loop, will challenge hikers. In addition, the area’s excellent forested habitat and good game populations will tempt—and may reward—skilled hunters.
Located east of beautiful Belleview Valley, this 3,824-acre area was purchased by the Missouri Department of Conservation from the Nature Conservancy in 1979. It was named for settler William Buford, who acquired the land through a Spanish Land Grant in 1812. In the mid-to-late 1800s, the charcoal industry flourished in the Belleview-Arcadia Valley, and evidence of this industry endures in the form of charcoal kilns scattered over the entire mountain.
With most of the mountain hardened by granite known as rhyolite, the area yields little permanent water. Limestone streambeds mark the base of the mountain, and several wet-weather springs can be found over the area. The mountain’s highest peak is 1,740 feet above sea level, and experienced hikers will appreciate the mile-long climb to the top. Along the way, you’ll notice the area’s most outstanding feature—its glades, which are a type of rocky, desert like natural community. They range in size from less than 1 acre to more than 10 acres. Please respect their sensitive plant and animal communities and very thin soils, and tread lightly through them. Take a breather at spectacular Bald Knob and enjoy the 10-mile view of Belleview Valley below.
Buford Mountain is home to wildlife species common to Missouri, including deer, squirrel and turkey, and is a favored hunting area for turkey hunters. Several species of forest birds also live here year-round. Don’t be surprised if you see or hear the dramatic pileated woodpecker hammering or “cackling” in the forest.
Campers will find primitive camping spots next to both parking lots, but there are no amenities, such as potable water or sanitary toilets. Come prepared to pack out trash and waste.
You will find Buford Mountain State Forest eight miles north of Ironton on Highway 21, then two miles north on Route U. As always, check the area’s website (listed below) for regulations, brochure, map and special notices before you travel.
—Bonnie Chasteen, photo by David Stonner
Recreation Opportunities: Birding, camping, hiking and hunting for deer, squirrel and turkey
Unique Features: This is a predominantly forested area with primitive camping, a 10-acre rhyolite (volcanic rock) glade and a 10.5-mile hiking trail.
For More Information Call 573-223-4525, or visit www.MissouriConservation.org/a