Points of Interest:
- Walk among one of the last stands of old-growth shortleaf pine in Missouri.
- Listen for pine warblers and yellow-throated warblers high in the pine canopy in spring.
- Enjoy the sound of the wind passing through the needles of some pine trees older than the United States.
Natural Features Description: Much of Missouri’s nearly four million acres of Ozark woodland dominated by shortleaf pine was logged by 1930. Only here and there are remnants of old-growth shortleaf pine stands like this one. These old stands of shortleaf pine have been very valuable for forest ecologists studying the ecology of shortleaf pine. Along with the pines mature black and mockernut hickories and post, black and white oaks cloak these hills. Shortleaf pine along with low bush blueberry grow well on the acidic and well drained soils of the area. Currently there is little regeneration of shortleaf pine on this site and the Conservation Department is investigating management options to maintain a component of pine here into the future. Over 300 feet below the ridge the Big Piney River courses and is part of a special management area for smallmouth bass.
This natural area is within the Peter A. Eck Conservation Area. From Licking, travel northwest on Highway 32 to Highway N. Follow Highway N to its end. Here go straight (due west) on the county gravel road (Mooney Hollow Road). At a half-mile, turn right (north) onto another county gravel road. Travel another half-mile and turn left (west) onto Eck Road which changes from a maintained gravel road to a dirt road. A high-clearance vehicle with four wheel drive is recommended for this road. The natural area can also be reached by boat. Put in at the Ross Access upstream. 13 miles downstream from the Ross Access is the natural area. 15 miles downstream from the Ross Access is the Slabtown Access (off Highway AF on the Mark Twain National Forest). Hunting and fishing are permitted.