Hercules Glades Wilderness Area is 12,413 acres of the most scenic and unique country in the Midwest. Its combination of open grassland, forested knobs, steep rocky hillsides, and narrow drainages offers unusual beauty and a measure of solitude within easy reach of wilderness lovers. The area is characterized by shallow droughty soils and limestone rock outcroppings. Eastern red cedar and oak trees are interspersed with open glades supporting native tall prairie grasses. Redbud and dogwood provide beautiful spring flowers, while smoke tree and maple put on vivid fall colors. A variety of wildlife species live within the Hercules Glades including white-tailed deer, raccoons rabbits, squirrels, turkey, quail, songbirds, lizards and snakes. Copperheads and rattlesnakes may be encountered. Roadrunners, collared lizards, tarantulas, wild hogs and black bears are some of the more uncommon wildlife residents.
Limit your party size to 10 persons. No camping within 100 feet of trails, water sources and other camps.Practice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics; Never tie stock directly to trees. No motorized or mechanized equipment allowed.
Trails: From the trailheads there is 32 miles of maintained trails which follows along open glades, forested ridgetops and Long Creek, the primary drainage of the area. Cross country hiking in other parts of the area is allowed. Key attractions along the trail include Long Creek Falls, panoramic views of the Ozarks countryside, and a variety of native communities including open limestone glades and mixed forests.
Rating: More Difficult to Most Difficult with steep terrain, stream crossings, sparsely marked trail, and elevations from 600 to 1200 feet. Length: 32 miles Best Seasons: Fall, winter, and spring. Leave No Trace: Pack out what you pack in. Restrictions: Foot and Horse only. Safety: No drinking water is available at parking areas or along the trail; bring what you will need, or be prepared to sterilize water you find. During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects, poison ivy and high temperatures. Be advised of hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods. Surface Type: Unsurfaced, native material.
I did the Coy Bald hike and loved it. Most of the trail was fairly easy to navigate, however the areas of open meadows were a little more difficult to find where it picks back up. The falls are a great rock feature when it’s dry and beautiful when they’re flowing.
This is a short four mile hike into cool shut ins that provide a swimming hole and water falls. Along the way on the ridge you can see all the way down into Arkansas.
Lots of fond memories hiking and camping back into the glades. Began hiking these trails over forty years ago. I have hiked all four Sean’s and even spent a December wedding anniversary there with my husband. Our daughters, now in their forties grew up hiking those trails.
Once I even rode horseback to the shut ins.
Hercules Glades Wilderness Area is part of mark Twain National Forest. It's a bit off the beaten path, but worth it for a day hike or a bit of backpacking.
Since it's wilderness area, you can camp just about anywhere with few restrictions. There are a few primitive sites at the trailhead, no water or toilets.
A few hundred yards from the Coy Bald Trailhead there is a fork in the trail. Going left gets you to the falls and the majority of the camp sites with the shortest route, about three miles.
The trail is pretty rough and rocky with moderate elevation changes. I'd rate it on the low side of moderate difficulty.
About a mile in you'll cross the river for the first time. There are camp sites with fire rings on both sides of the river. This is a scenic area with bluffs on one side of the river, but forested, so no views to speak of.
About three miles in, you'll cross the river the second time. There are a number of camping areas with fire rings along the river.
Downstream a few hundred feet are the falls that most people go to see. Unfortunately for us, there wasn't enough water for them to be running. There was enough water to wade around in and soak the feet. It was quite nice!
The area is pretty and quiet, we saw only a handful of people in the two days we were there. The only issue was the ticks, they were the worst I'd dealt with in some time.
All in all, a nice hike and a nice bit if camping. I'd go back to see the falls again.