Valley View Glades Natural Area

Valley View Glades Natural Area is a very unique opportunity for nature photographers. I hiked it one time last winter, so I am somewhat familiar with the area. There are natural streams, a couple small natural waterfalls, and epic views across the glade. It is a moderately-difficult hike, so make sure you are prepared and research the area.  

You will need the usual hiking boots, insect repellent, tripod, lots of water, food, and a few different focal lengths. This area is very diverse in terms of photographic opportunities. A person could spend days under the forest canopy working with the streams and bottomland wildflowers or hike to the top of the glade and wait for the magic light. Depending on the weather and light on our day, I will have a good plan for us. I would suggest bringing a variety of gear and we will decide our focus when on site. You will need some type of backpack to hike with your gear and store your food and water. This is going to be a lot of fun!


About the Area:
Valley View Glades are representative of a natural community, dolomite glade, that is distributed in a band 2 to 5 miles wide from around Morse Mill extending southeastward beyond Hillsboro and DeSoto to Festus and north Ste. Genevieve County. Along this band numerous outcrops of the Jefferson City-Cotter dolomite formation occur on south and west slopes creating glades. These shallow-soil communities harbor an amazing amount of plant and animal diversity. However, with urban expansion from St. Louis few intact glade communities such as this remain. Most glades in Jefferson County have been heavily encroached by eastern red cedars in the absence of the historic ecological process of fire or have been converted to other land uses.

Visitors can see over 250 native plant species here including many glade adapted species. From spring to fall there is usually something blooming. Most glade plants have some form of adaptation to deal with drought conditions. Some glade plants such as false garlic and slender sandwort complete their flowering and seed production when the glades are wet in the spring. Other glade plants such as prairie dock and glade coneflower have deep root systems to draw up water during the summer months. Missouri black-eyed Susan leaves are covered with hairs to slow evapotranspiration loss of moisture. The American aloe, a native agave species, stores water in its thick succulent leaves. In the spring look for the blooms of Fremont’s leather flower, a plant species found in Missouri mainly on dolomite glades, primarily in Jefferson and adjacent counties. This species is named after John Charles Fremont, a botanical explorer who organized a number of expeditions across the western U.S. prior to the Civil War.

While enjoying the views from the glades keep your eyes out for the more than 25 native butterflies, including common but showy species as the great spangled fritillary, found here. The glade also provides habitat for prairie warblers, eastern towhees, indigo buntings, and field sparrows. Unfortunately illegal collecting of reptiles has occurred for many years on these glades and subsequently the reptile community has been greatly diminished. Please do not flip rocks or collect any plants or animals from the area. Conservation Department staff has used thinning of cedars and periodic prescribed fires to restore and maintain this glade community.

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  • aaron h

    This was a great location to photograph! I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself to anyone since I showed up late and immediately got carried away with shooting the place. I look forward to meeting people at an upcoming event!

    1 · June 15

  • Jim O.

    Hey Tim. Friendly reminder :-) Insect repellent, doggy covers and rechargeable battery brand names please

    June 10

  • Richard S.

    That was one place I could go back to over and over. Photos look great.

    1 · June 10

    • Al A.

      (It's because you used a tripod Richard!) LOL

      June 10

  • Karu K.

    It was a great experience. I learned some history about the park area and some valuable photographic tips and a mini lessons on wild plants. Thank you Tim. I also quickly learned that Tim is a perfectionist based on past few meetups. Thank you for taking the time to drive us around some nice photographic sites which I wouldn't have known without your help.

    2 · June 8

  • Phil K.

    Everybodys uploads thus far have been nothing less than excellent. Looks like Sunday was the day of the light!

    3 · June 9

  • Tim Layton S.

    I finally uploaded a few images. I am super impressed with the creativity and quality of everyone's images. Wow!!!

    1 · June 9

  • Al A.

    The Glades were an unexpected natural beauty. We didn't explore the entire region thus not finding the 35 species of butterflies. What we did see and subsequent areas we visited were a delight.

    2 · June 9

  • Kathy B.

    I clearly need to work my with the macro tubes, but appreciated exploring this area today. Great suggestion Tim, and thanks so much!

    2 · June 8

    • Kathy B.

      Tim please do, I would be very interested.

      June 8

    • Janis S.

      I would like to go too Tim. Sorry I could not make it today - but I am working hard on my macro shots!

      June 8

  • Tim Layton S.

    The weather and light was fantastic

    1 · June 8

  • A former member
    A former member

    I learned something new today!

    3 · June 8

    • Janis S.

      Sorry I didn't get to shoot with you today Martha. What new thing did you learn today?

      June 8

    • A former member
      A former member

      About definition- also I need to learn something that Kathy mentioned.

      June 8

  • Kathy B.

    Am running late

    June 8

  • Phil K.

    Cant make it tomorrow morning so I ventured there early this morning, just missed the sunrise and then it hazed over. The glade is in full bloom with coneflowers, evening primrose and some indian paint brush. It was somewhat hot and muggy and the insects were buzzing. The area has about a 3 mile walking trail that loops back to parking lot. I would say that there is probably 60% woodland and 40% glade. I walked the whole thing and I can tell you theres not a lot to be found in the wooded areas except lots insects and spider webs that cross the trail...I know, I walked into about a dozen of them this morning....phhhhtttt!!

    1 · June 7

    • Richard S.

      I need to get a walking stick to knock down the spider webs.

      June 7

    • A former member
      A former member

      [masked] is my cell number. I hope that I won't g=t lost. Leaving now.

      June 8

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am running a little late. Martha

    June 8

  • Aly

    Ok...just curious...do ticks drop out of trees on you here or are there plenty of open areas to take pictures. I don't care about drowning myself in bug spray but Im thinking if those critters are dropping out of trees then I think I may need to be wearing a hat. Doesn't look like it will be too hot so I guess its recommended to wear long pants but to make sure we have bug spray on underneath? Im from bug country being from TX but I keep hearing horror stories about the ticks. This is my first time venturing out into the woods during this time of year.

    June 7

    • Phil K.

      Alice I walked the whole trail without picking one tick off me...Im not saying they're not there but I didn't have any problems with them...as of yet anyway.

      1 · June 7

    • Richard S.

      If you are wearing long pants you can put a dog or cat tick collie around the outside of your pants. DO Not put it on direct skin.

      2 · June 7

  • Janis S.

    I am not going to make this one after all. Sorry to miss this.

    June 7

  • Phil K.

    When you hit the trail from the lot, you will walk about 75 yards of woods to the first glade, at that point the trail goes either left or right. If you go left you will hit the woods within 100yards or so. There are a few wet weather waterfalls on this part of the trail but they were bone dry this morning. Walking is pretty easy but there are a few hills to walk back up once you've gotten down into the creek bottom. Again not much to shoot on that part of the trail. I would advise everyone to stick to the first part of the glade (about a 100 yards or so from parking) or take the trail to the right and walk down the hillside thru the trees and you're there.

    1 · June 7

    • Tim Layton S.

      Phil, how were the flowers on the glade? In particular, how about the coneflowers? Did you make it around the the ridge on the opposite side?

      June 7

    • Phil K.

      Tim, all flowers on glade are excellent...especially the coneflowers. I walked completely around the loop. The only indian paintbrush I saw where back down in the far corner when you first come up from the bottoms. The ridge on the opposite side is excellent...jillions of cones flowers and primrose.

      June 7

  • Ann

    Had to cancel because of an emergency at work. Can't wait to see the pictures and will have to go exploring on my own soon.

    June 7

  • Karu K.

    Thank you Phil for the heads up! I am kind of 50/50 to go or not to go. I will see the what is the morning going to look like...hopefully no rain.

    June 7

  • Phil K.

    Again the coneflowers and evening primrose or spectacular. There are also lots of downed cedars that scatter the glade and the fauna grows nicely among it ...makes for some neat comps. I would bring everything from wide to telephoto and there are plenty of macro opps too....the breeze was nice on the glade...I definitely needed it after the long walk thur the woods and over the hills.
    Lastly, the parking lot is itty bitty...probably holds a dozen cars at the most, maybe a few more. The lot is located approx 7 miles south of hwy 30 on B, so be on the look out...you can drive right by it, however it is marked with a Missouri Conservation area sign.
    Hope this helps...it is a lovely place. Have fun all!!

    3 · June 7

    • Jim O.

      Thanks for all the info Phil. Glad you got down there today. Just hope I can get my butt out of bed again. On new sleeping tablets that are working too good. lol

      June 7

  • Laura

    I guess 30 to B is the easiest way verses google maps directiins

    June 6

  • A former member
    A former member

    OK- I'll try- I just hope I can get there at 7 am!- Just exactly what are the Directions? I am coming from St. Louis County, right by Schillers!- I'm near 44 and can get to 270 from there-Then where do I go?-Also- Will someone give me their cell number in case I get lost?? Bug spray is MOST Important- Lyme disease is Terrible!-

    June 6

    • Janis S.

      Sorry - just cannot type on my iphone! My number is[masked]-7720. If it is raining, I probably will not come. But aside from that - I will see you there.

      1 · June 6

    • Al A.

      Directions are below in Tim's reply.

      June 6

  • Al A.

    Tim where exactly are we meeting? The map gives me a general idea.

    1 · June 5

    • Tim Layton S.

      There is just one small parking lot (easy to miss). If you are going south on highway 30 turn left on B and follow exactly 6.6 miles to the parking lot. If you pass Raintree, you just missed it.

      5 · June 5

    • Al A.

      TY

      June 5

  • Kathy B.

    Okay I'm going to make myself do this , though am very nervous! Can you make a few lens and filter suggestions? Thanks!

    June 5

    • Tim Layton S.

      its a beautiful place... you will love it.. bring bug spray... :)

      1 · June 5

    • Janis S.

      I hear you Kathy! It sounds a bit ambitious to me as well - but I am going to give it a go. See you there.

      2 · June 5

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