James Baughn was the webmaster of seMissourian.com and its sister newspapers for 20 years. On the side, he maintained even more sites, including Bridgehunter.com, LandmarkHunter.com, TheCapeRock.com, and Humorix. Baughn passed away in 2020 while doing one of the things he loved most: hiking in Southeast Missouri. Here is an archive of his writing about hiking and nature in our area.
Seventy-Six: A good choice for wildflowers
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013, at 10:27 PM
April is the peak month for wildflowers in Missouri. Flowers can be found along many trails, but one sure-fire location is Seventy-Six Conservation Area in Perry County.
I've visited Seventy-Six numerous times over the years -- including one memorable day filled with armadillo sightings. Each visit, it seems that the Conservation Department has made additional improvements to the area, including the establishment of the "Wilkinson Trail", a looped nature trail.
Presumably named for John Wilkinson, the founder of the long-lost town of Seventy-Six, the Wilkinson Trail provides a nice balance of hills, river views, creeks, open fields, rock outcrops, sinkholes, and wildflowers (as well as armadillos if you're lucky).
Following old farm roads, the trail is a "gut-buster" featuring two major hill climbs. However, the Mississippi River views are worth the effort.
A series of open fields provide a clear view across the river floodplain into Illinois.
At one point, the trail descends to the river level and meets a minor tributary at a rickety wooden bridge. This particular spot is loaded with wildflowers, especially trillium.
The trail begins and ends near Clines Branch, a picturesque stream dotted with chunks of limestone.
Seventy-Six Conservation Area doesn't have spectacular scenery, but it does have a variety of things to explore. It's like the jack-of-all-trades for the outdoors.
From Cape Girardeau, take I-55 north to the Fruitland exit (#105). Then turn right and continue on US 61 north through Fruitland to the junction with Route C. Turn right and follow Route C as it snakes through Pocahontas, New Wells, Altenburg, Frohna, and Brazeau. At Brazeau, turn right on Route D (look for the conservation area sign). Follow Route D to where the pavement ends and continue straight ahead on Perry County Road 437. Just after crossing the creek on a low-water bridge, turn left into the parking lot with the "Hiking Trail" sign.
At the far side of the parking lot, look for the trailhead. Grab a map from the information board if available. The trail will come to an immediate junction; I'd recommend going straight and following the loop counter-clockwise. Skirting along a hillside, the trail will pass through an old limestone quarry before ascending to the top of a ridge. Follow the signs as the trail crosses a series of open fields, then descends back to river level. It then (deep breath) climbs to the hilltop again, meanders through the woods, and eventually turns back toward the trailhead.
- The Pavement Ends guide to the Ozark Riverways (8/19/20)
- Maintz sunflowers back for 2020 (7/27/20)
- Massive sinkhole opens in Reynolds County along the Trail of Tears (6/3/20)1
- Hike from 0 to 12 miles on the Audubon Trail (5/14/20)
- Scenes from Pinecrest Azalea Garden (4/19/20)
- Ideas for getting away from it all (3/27/20)1
- Jean Dale: Cape Girardeau baseball sensation (with an asterisk) (2/10/20)
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