Clifty Creek Natural Area, Maries County, 230 acres


First mention of this area was by G. C. Broadhead (Reports of the Geological Survey of the State of Missouri) in 1873. Broadhead's fieldwork noted Clifty Creek Natural Bridge. The later report indicated "The valley at this point, being shut in by its perpendicular cliffs, with not a path to guide the traveler through the dense thickets, is wildly picturesque and romantic in its loneliness."

The natural bridge is impressive and located in an old creek bed, a tributary stream which had cut through Gasconade dolomite. The area includes oak hickory forested hills, small glade openings, limestone bluffs, and bottomland hardwoods.

The Foundation's Clifty Creek Natural Area joins the Missouri Conservation Department's Clifty Creek Conservation Area. Together they comprise 486 acres with a small parking area along Maries County Road 511.

From the parking lot a short trail leads to an intersection and a 2.5 mile loop hiking trail. There is very scenic hiking going either direction. The trail was completed in the fall of 2008, through funding from the Conservation Department, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, the L-A-D Foundation and the Department of Natural Resources' Recreational Trails Program. Volunteers from around the state helped to build the trail entirely by hand. This hike is moderately difficult.


This area was designated a Missouri Natural Area in 1971. It is owned by the L-A-D Foundation and leased to the Missouri Department of Conservation for management.


From Dixon take Highway 28 north to Route W, turn east (right) and follow until the pavement ends. Continue on to the parking lot on the north side of the road and the trailhead.

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