Valley View Glades
Points of Interest:
- View desert-like habitats just south of the St. Louis metro area.
- See an area not far from St. Louis that looks much like it did when the French settlers arrived.
- Look for over 250 native plant species and 25 native butterfly species.
Valley View Glades are representative of a natural community, dolomite glade, that is distributed in a band 2 to 5 miles wide from around Morse Mill extending southeastward beyond Hillsboro and DeSoto to Festus and north Ste. Genevieve County. Along this band numerous outcrops of the Jefferson City-Cotter dolomite formation occur on south and west slopes creating glades. These shallow-soil communities harbor an amazing amount of plant and animal diversity. However, with urban expansion from St. Louis few intact glade communities such as this remain. Most glades in Jefferson County have been heavily encroached by eastern red cedars in the absence of the historic ecological process of fire or have been converted to other land uses.
Visitors can see over 250 native plant species here including many glade adapted species. From spring to fall there is usually something blooming. Most glade plants have some form of adaptation to deal with drought conditions. Some glade plants such as false garlic and slender sandwort complete their flowering and seed production when the glades are wet in the spring. Other glade plants such as prairie dock and glade coneflower have deep root systems to draw up water during the summer months. Missouri black-eyed Susan leaves are covered with hairs to slow evapotranspiration loss of moisture. The American aloe, a native agave species, stores water in its thick succulent leaves. In the spring look for the blooms of Fremont’s leather flower, a plant species found in Missouri mainly on dolomite glades, primarily in Jefferson and adjacent counties. This species is named after John Charles Fremont, a botanical explorer who organized a number of expeditions across the western U.S. prior to the Civil War.
While enjoying the views from the glades keep your eyes out for the more than 25 native butterflies, including common but showy species as the great spangled fritillary, found here. The glade also provides habitat for prairie warblers, eastern towhees, indigo buntings, and field sparrows. Unfortunately illegal collecting of reptiles has occurred for many years on these glades and subsequently the reptile community has been greatly diminished. Please do not flip rocks or collect any plants or animals from the area. Conservation Department staff has used thinning of cedars and periodic prescribed fires to restore and maintain this glade community.
From the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway B in Hillsboro, travel west on Highway B for 4.5 miles to the parking lot on the right (north) side of the road. The 2.5 miles Valley View Glades Trail provides hikers a nice loop through the glades and associated woodlands. Hunting is permitted.