Chariton River Hills
Points of Interest:
- See some of the last savanna and prairie remnants remaining in the Chariton River Hills.
- Look for colorful prairie wildflowers – over 250 native plant species occur here.
- Keep your eyes and ears posted for a variety of birds including red-headed woodpeckers, brown thrashers, field sparrows and indigo buntings.
Natural Features Description: This natural area consists of two units, the West Chariton Prairie (44 acres) and the Bee Trace Savanna (385 acres). The stand of oak savanna at the north end of the Bee Trace Savanna unit may be the best quality example of savanna left in the glaciated plains of north Missouri. Historically savannas occurred throughout Missouri, typically intermingled with prairie openings and as part of a transition zone to more timbered woodland and forest communities. The botanical richness of these savanna and prairie remnants has been restored here through active management since 1990. Some of the sentinel oaks that stand here have been around for over a century with some exceeding two centuries in age. Growing beneath the open-grown oaks with their wide-spreading crowns is a luxuriant growth of native sedges, grasses and wildflowers. Honing in on this structure of scattered trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs and their abundant insect, seed and fruit resources are a number of bird species.
This natural area is within Long Branch State Park. From Macon, head west on Highway 36. Take the first exit west of Macon off Highway 36. Head west along the visitor center road (passing by the Army Corps of Engineers office) that goes over the dam spillway. From Highway 36 it is about 3 miles to the state park office. Inquire at the visitor center about accessing this natural area.