Hercules Glades Wilderness
|Hercules Glades Wilderness|
|Location||Taney County, Missouri, USA|
|Nearest city||Forsyth, Missouri or Taneyville, Missouri|
|Area||12,314 acres (50 km2)|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
The Hercules Glades Wilderness is a 12,314-acre (50 km2) wilderness area in the U.S. state of Missouri. The United States Congress designated it a wilderness in 1976  making it the oldest wilderness area in Missouri. It is one of eight wilderness areas in the Mark Twain National Forest and is within the Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs ranger district, about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Branson, Missouri. Often considered to hold some of the most scenic country in the midwest, Hercules Glades Wilderness derives its name from the open limestone glades (balds) that dot its landscape. The high points of Coy Bald and Pilot Knob stand 600 feet above Long Creek and offer splendid views of the drainage. Long creek also offers views at small waterfalls and cascades along its path.
Flora and fauna
A mix of typical oak/hickory forests interspersed with open post oak savannahs and rocky, desert-like glades are home to many species of plants and wildlife. This includes some species that are often considered to be southwestern species. prickly pear cacti, roadrunner, scorpions, collared lizard, pygmy rattlesnakes, and even tarantulas call Hercules Glades Wilderness home, not to mention other wildlife more common in Missouri like the white-tailed deer and wild turkey. Hercules Glades Wilderness is also home to many species of plants that are Ozark endemics. Some of these plants are Bush's skullcap (Scutellaria bushii), Ozark corn salad (Valerianella ozarkana), purple penstemon (Penstemon cobaea var. purpureus), and Trelease's larkspur (Delphinium treleasei). Depending on past land-use histories (fire, grazing, and logging primarily) some places within Hercules Glades Wilderness exhibit floral diversities that rival most other areas in Missouri.
Hercules Glades has 32 miles (51 km) trail system that is popular for foot travel and horseback riding, and there are camping facilities available, with three main trailheads.
- Bell Mountain Wilderness
- Devils Backbone Wilderness
- Irish Wilderness
- Paddy Creek Wilderness
- Piney Creek Wilderness
- Rockpile Mountain Wilderness
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