Current River Natural Area, Shannon County, 265 acres
Here, the white oak canopy trees covering the north-facing hillside have been aged at 300 to 400 years. Satterfield Hollow holds permanent water and within the natural area is a small fen. This is the upper end of Satterfield Hollow which is flowing west toward the Current River and the old-growth forest is truly one of the most impressive in Missouri.
The forest structure and character here is original. Core sampling in 1993 showed that the large white oak trees we see today grew beneath a closed canopy, demonstrating how historically our Ozark forests undergo slow natural regeneration, often under shaded conditions, with individual tees being replaced over hundreds of years.
This site was well known to many early Missouri conservationists including Dr. Julian Steyermark of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and to founders of the Missouri Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. This was Missouri's first Natural Area, recognized in 1955 by the Society of American Foresters as a signature forest type for study and research. In December, 1971 the area was designated as a Missouri Natural Area. In 2005, upon its 50th anniversary, the site was enlarged and rededicated. It is owned by the L-A-D Foundation and managed as part of Pioneer Forest LLC.
Directions to the Site
A remote location best reached from Bunker using The Sinks and Midridge topographic maps.
From Highway 32 take Route P south about two miles. Turn left (east) off Route P onto a gravel road for about 1/2-mile then turn right (south) to continue through Midridge to Pioneer's Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry. After about a mile into the Backcountry turn left to pass the Himont Trailhead. Continue south on the gravel road about 4-5 miles and watch for a gravel road on the right (west) where you will turn. Continue down this ridge above Satterfield Hollow (known locally as the Tick-A-Chig Ridge Road). Go about 1/2-mile where you will notice a woods trail on the right (north). Park along the road and walk in. As you start down the hill there will be a routed wooden sign for Current River Natural Area. Further down the hill you will see a sign marking the original 10-acre site recognized by the Society of American Foresters.