Spring's End Forest
Points of Interest:
- Explore one of the largest bottomland forest tracts left in the middle Meramec River region.
- Look and listen for the rare cerulean warbler as well as several other bottomland forest birds.
- Enjoy a canoe adventure along 2.5 miles of Meramec River that supports a diverse fishery of game and nongame species alike.
Natural Features Description:
Historically much of the bottomlands along the Meramec River supported lush bottomland forests. Today many of those forests are gone having been replaced by non-native pasture grasses and row crops. This natural area features rich mesic and riverfront bottomland forest communities that support a diversity of bird species including the northern parula, American redstart, Kentucky warbler, prothonotary warbler, Acadian flycatcher and pileated woodpecker. Found within the waters of the Meramec River are five fish species and three crayfish species endemic to the Ozarks, including the freckled crayfish, a species of conservation concern, that is endemic just to the Meramec River basin. This stretch of intact riverine forests, river banks, sand bars, sloughs and gravel bars is a model of good quality riparian habitat.
This natural area is within the Woodson K. Woods Memorial Conservation Area. From St. James travel south and east on Highway 8. From the intersection of highways 8 and 68 proceed east on Highway 8 for ¾ mile and turn left (north) into the area parking lot. Follow the main area access road (which may be closed to vehicle traffic) for about 2 miles to the north end of the natural area (consult the area map for details).
The easiest way to access the largest portion of the natural area is via canoe. Canoe access: from the intersection of highways 8 and 68, go east on Highway 8 for about 3.75 miles (crossing over the Meramec River bridge) and turn left (north) into the access lane that leads to the Meramec River access within a tenth of a mile. From the river access it is about 2 river miles downstream to the entrance of the natural area. After canoeing for 2.5 miles through the natural area, Scotts Ford Access is 4 miles downstream of the east end of the natural area and is the first take-out point.
A small, but high quality stand of mesic bottomland forest is south of Highway 8. To access this part of the natural area travel east from St. James on Highway 8 and cross the Meramec River. After crossing the river look for Meramec Farm Road on the right (south) side of Highway 8. Take this road and go south nearly a mile and turn into the parking lot on the right (west). From the parking lot head west 900 feet navigating around old gravel mining pits (now ponds) to the forest.
A map and compass are recommended to explore this area. Hunting and fishing are permitted.