The Ozarks have plenty of trails available for the avid hiker or backpacker, but not many that offer so much so close to Springfield. Hercules Glades Wilderness Area has so much to offer, including 32 miles of maintained trail, that you can go again and again without getting burned out by visiting the same place. The wilderness area is 12,413 acres of the most scenic and unique country in the Midwest. It will lead you through expansive glade tops with amazing views of the Ozark hillsides, forested knobs, steep rocky hillsides, and narrow drainage points that offer unusual beauty and a measure of solitude within easy reach of Springfield. The trails rate from moderate to difficult with steep terrain, stream crossings, open glades and sparsely marked trails. Make sure to print off a map (link below) or bring a GPS device.
Many that visit Hercules Glades will make there way down the rocky single track trail, passing through dense forests of indigenous hardwoods and multiple creek crossings to reach The Falls on Long Creek. Here you will find plenty of campsites and a small waterfall that spills over in a unique v-shaped drop that can be easily explored in low water. If camping down by The Falls, make sure to take some time to explore Long Creek, it is a unique and beautiful rocky Missouri creek. If planning a trip after heavy rains, make sure to use caution. Long Creek can be very difficult, if not impossible, to cross after a good rain storm.
Hercules Glades, by its namesake, offers many large glades and glade tops that offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy the Ozark countryside. The glades are also host to some of the more unique and rare creatures that can be found in the Ozarks, including road runners, tarantulas, and scorpions just to name a few. If you can time it right, the glade tops offer a great place to sit back and watch a thunderstorm roll through in the distance, enjoy an expansive view of a starry sky or even a lunar eclipse. There are glade tops scattered throughout the area, many within a very short walking distance of a trailhead, and most with places to set up a tent or three! If planning on camping at one of these glade tops, make sure to bring extra water as there will be no water close by to filter.
Make sure to bring a trail map and compass or GPS device with you, to keep you on the right path.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trail Length: Over 32 miles of trail
Location: 1 hr southeast of Springfield off Hwy. 125
Amenities: Bathroom at main trailhead
Pet Friendly: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Best time to visit