Points of Interest:
- Explore one of the most scenic and rugged Ozark natural areas from the geologic wonder of Rocky Falls to the wide-open views from atop Stegall Mountain’s glades.
- Investigate the beauty of Rogers Creek, a high-quality Ozark headwater stream.
- Look for characteristic birds and reptiles in the restored woodlands and glades.
The rugged Ozark landscape of Stegall Mountain contains a cross-section of Ozark natural communities of the Current River Hills region. On top of that the area features Rocky Falls, a scenic shut-ins where Rocky Creek in wet weather tumbles down a 40 foot cascade. Rhyolite rocks form the core of Stegall and Thorny Mountains and were formed over a billion years ago. On lower slopes soils have developed from dolomite and chert deposits as well.
Rogers Creek flows along the south side of Stegall Mountain and on east for five miles through the area. This creek’s upper watershed is nearly contained on Conservation Department lands. Twenty five native fish species live in the creek including the colorful southern redbelly dace, bleeding shiner, rainbow darter, and longear sunfish. The stream banks are lined with alder and Ward’s willow that shade the streams’ riffles and pools.
The rocky slopes of the natural area contain large igneous glade openings with extensive bedrock areas covered in lichens that support exquisitely camouflaged lichen grasshoppers. Scattered across these rocky barrens are little bluestem grass and a number of wildflowers You may also be lucky enough to see the colorful collared lizard that inhabits these glades. Unfortunately collared lizards and other glade reptiles are illegally collected for pets and this has decimated populations of glade lizards at some sites. Please only take pictures of these wonderful collared lizards, known locally as “mountain boomers.” Intermingled with the glades and surrounding them are dry woodlands with gnarled oaks and hickories. Growing underneath these oaks, hickories and pines are a variety of native legumes that provide an important wildlife food.
Research conducted on fire scars recorded in tree rings has shown that fires historically swept through this area on average every five years in the 1800s. Thinning and prescribed fires have been used to manage the glades and their associated woodlands resulting in an increase in the population and genetic diversity of the collared lizards. The forests and woodlands are good places to find whip-poor-wills, scarlet tanagers, worm-eating warblers, red-eyed vireos, black-and-white warblers, and red-bellied woodpeckers. Scattered stands of shortleaf pine occur here as well.
The Mid-Continent Iron Company smelted low-grade iron ore and made wood alcohol seven miles away in the early 1900s which lead to much of the region’s timber being cut down. In 1945 the Missouri Department of Conservation bought what became Peck Ranch Conservation Area for wild turkey restoration. Today the hills and hollows of this area are much quieter than they were 90 years ago and the turkeys have been restored.