The Bluffwoods and Goodell Conservation Areas are located just nine miles south of St. Joseph in the Missouri River loess hills in southwestern Buchanan County.
Bluffwoods was acquired in the mid-1970s for the purpose of providing a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities and to maintain a portion of the last remaining oak-hickory forested areas in northwest Missouri.
The forest on Bluffwoods is home to several different kinds of trees as one would expect including: northern red oak, chinkapin oak, basswood, black walnut, pawpaw and the spectacular fall color of the sugar maples. Other woodland plants that can be found include Adam and Eve orchids and showy orchids. The remaining acres on Bluffwoods consist of a mix of old crop fields, abandoned pasturelands, and homesteads (no structures remain) and a few native grass openings, likely remnants of dry loess hill prairies.
Steep bluffs adjacent to the Missouri River valley provide numerous vantage points for scenic views that can be accessed by service roads and trail loops. The Forest Nature Trail is a gently sloped, paved, disabled accessible trail system that winds thru forested and openland habitats. Restroom privies and picnic pavilion, both disabled accessible are at the trail head. The Kerlin Creek Picnic Area is located at the trail head of the Maple Falls and Lone Pine trails and has several picnic tables and fire rings available along with a disabled accessible privy. There are two wet weather springs and a waterfall that can also be found on the Maple Falls Trail loop.
Over 100 woodland species of wildlife can be found on Bluffwoods including: turkey, squirrel, raccoons, deer, foxes, and numerous species of birds. As a matter of fact this area has been designated by Audubon Missouri as an Important Bird Area (IBA). IBAs are sites that have been identified by Audubon as those that are the most crucial for bird populations, due to their abundance and/or diversity of birds present. Find out more about the IBA program. Several songbirds whose numbers have recently declined, overwinter in the tropics or migrate through or nest in the forests of Bluffwoods Conservation Area.
Bottomland wetlands and forests and woodlands in the nearby bluffs are among the variety of natural communities found in the Iatan/Weston Missouri River Corridor Conservation Opportunity Area and Priority Forest Landscape between Kansas City and Saint Joseph. The Missouri Department of Conservation, Audubon Missouri, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and interested private landowners have partnered to conserve high quality marshes, wetlands, woodlands and forests for neotropical migratory songbirds and species of conservation concern in this opportunity area.