Places to Go

Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area

Once a private fish hatchery, Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area (CA) is managed for wildlife habitat, natural communities, outdoor recreation, and healthy sustainable forests. Oak-hickory forests, open woodlands, and rocky barren glades are found on the hillsides. Mature stands of sycamore, walnut, oaks, and the occasional butternut grow in bottomland forests along Big Buffalo Creek and Pole Hollow Creek.

Big Buffalo Creek CA is known for birding opportunities and its show of springtime wildflowers. A visit in early spring promises a stunning display of flowering dogwood, serviceberry, Dutchman’s breeches, and other spring ephemerals. Birders know the area as a place to observe and photograph riparian and forest-interior species and spring migrants.

A 45-acre portion of the area is designated as the Big Buffalo Creek Fen Natural Area, which features a deep muck Ozark fen. A fen is a bog-like wetland that is fed by water percolating up through muck, called peat, which is formed by decayed vegetation. This permanently saturated site harbors many unique species including interior sedge, Riddell’s goldenrod, and the four-toed salamander. A trail to the fen is located approximately three-quarters of a mile south of the intersection of Highway FF and Big Buffalo Road.

The area offers hiking and horseback riding opportunities on 4.5 miles of multiple-use trails. For anglers willing to walk, Big Buffalo Lake provides good fishing opportunities. Located 1.5 miles from the campground, the 6-acre lake is stocked with sunfish, bass, and channel catfish. Big Buffalo Creek CA is also a popular destination for hunters, and the area supports good populations of deer, turkey, and squirrel.

The campground provides an opportunity for primitive camping (no water, electricity, or restrooms). Located near the area’s southern boundary on Big Buffalo Road, the campground has 10 graveled camping pads and a large grassy area for tent camping.

To reach Big Buffalo Creek CA, travel west from Stover on Highway 52, turn left onto Highway FF, and travel south for nearly 8 miles. At the intersection with Big Buffalo Road, turn right and go approximately 0.3 miles to the north entrance of the area.

—Jake Willard, area manager

  • Recreation opportunities: bird watching, fishing, hunting in season, nature viewing, primitive camping, hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing
  • Unique features: This area features oak and hickory forests, bottomland hardwood forests, woodland-glade complexes, and a deep muck fen.
  • For More Information: Call 660-530-5500 or visit mdc.mo.gov/a6315.