Big Spring Pines
Points of Interest:
- Witness a stand of shortleaf pines that have stood for the past two centuries.
- Look and listen to pine warblers and black-and-white warblers in the spring and red-breasted nuthatches in the winter in the pines.
- See pines with diameters of 18 to 30 inches.
Natural Features Description:
This area was owned by the McSpadden family in the early 1900s. They only lightly logged this area. In the 1920s this area became part of Big Spring State Park and eventually became a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways unit of the National Park Service. Here you can experience one of the few places left in Missouri to see old-growth shortleaf pines. These are the kinds of trees that fueled Missouri’s timber boom era in the Ozarks at the turn of the century. Scientists have studied fire scars blazed into tree rings of old pines from this area and determined that wildfires occurred every two years here from 1780 to 1850, every 22 years before 1780, and every 70 years after 1930. The continued presence of shortleaf pine here will likely depend on periodic prescribed fires.
This natural area is within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. From Van Buren, go west on Highway 60. Just after Highway 60 crosses the Current River, head left (south) on Highway 103. Follow Highway 103 south for 4 miles into the Big Spring area of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Follow area signs to the lodge and cabins. The natural area can be accessed by a hiking trail that follows the main ridge leading south and west from the cabin area and eventually leads to the old Big Spring fire tower site. A map and compass are recommended to explore the area.