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U.S. Forest Service

Eastern Region Viewing Area


Grasshopper Hollow location map. Grasshopper Hollow location map.

Yellow coneflower and pale purple coneflower. Michigan lily (Lilium michiganense) in Grasshopper Hollow. Photo by Allison Vaughn.

Culver’s root. Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum).

Prairie fen. Prairie fen.

Yellow coneflower and pale purple coneflower. Prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum).

Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area

Forest: Mark Twain National Forest

District: Salem Ranger District

Description: Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area is a 593-acre natural area jointly owned by the Mark Twain National Forest, The Nature Conservancy, and Doe Run Mineral Corporation. Grasshopper Hollow contains the largest, most significant fen complex in un-glaciated North America. The Doe Run Mineral Corporation leases its portion of the natural area to The Nature Conservancy, who jointly manages the area with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Forest Service. On The Nature Conservancy property there is a self-guided, one-half mile long trail with 10 interpretive stations including an observation deck. A spur of the Ozark Trail also runs through the natural area.

Viewing Information: Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area contains the largest known fen complex in un-glaciated North America. A fen is a rare natural community where soils are saturated from the upwelling of mineral-rich groundwater, creating spring rivulets and ooze areas. At least 15 different fens of various types (Forested Fen, Ozark Fen, and Prairie Fen) and 9 state-listed plant and animal species are found at Grasshopper Hollow.

Ozark Fen. An Ozark fen is a bog-like area characterized by shallow, wet mucky soil, although wetter areas can have up to 40 inches of mucky soil and pools of standing water. It is dominated by sedges, rushes, and grasses that form tussocks. (A tussock is a small mound of solid vegetation.) This is the most common fen found in the Ozarks and may be located on steep, narrow valley slopes, in ravines, on rock ledges, on glades, on rocky terraces, or at the base of a bluff. There are four seep fens at Grasshopper Hollow where you may find a variety of sedges, rushes, grasses, as well as marsh coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), marsh fern fen goldenrod (Solidago riddellii), Michigan lily (Lilium michiganense), glossy-leaved aster (Aster puniceus var. firmus), Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum), and marsh bellflower (Campanula aparinoides).

Prairie Fen. The soil is shallow and gravelly, and the ground water seepage is usually not seen on a prairie fen. A mixture of fen and prairie plants grows here creating a unique and diverse community. At Grasshopper Hollow various sedges and marsh coneflower are common in the wettest areas. The mesic zones contain an assortment of plants including prairie cord grass (Spartina pectinata), prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), western ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii), and common mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum). The drier sections are dominated by tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) and broom sedge (Andropogon virginicus). The 10-acre prairie fen at Grasshopper Hollow is the largest prairie fen known in the unglaciated regions of North America.

Forested Fen. The soil of a forested fen is somewhat poorly drained and seasonally saturated from the seeping mineral-rich groundwater and rainwater. Small hummocks are sometimes created around tree clumps. (Hummocks are raised, drier mounds of humus found in a swamp, upon which grow a variety of plants.) The canopy is closed and composed of trees usually found in a bottomland forest. The forested fen at Grasshopper Hollow was heavily cut in the past, but is being restored to its natural quality. Chestnut oak, red maple, hornbeam, green ash, and red elm are the dominant canopy trees with spicebush in the understory. The ground flora, which is concentrated on moss and sedge dominated hummocks, includes swamp agrimony (Agrimonia parviflora), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), leafy bulrush (Scirpus polyphyllus), golden ragwort (Senecio aurea), and fen goldenrod.

Safety First: Check the local weather forecast and dress accordingly. Long pants and sleeves, hiking boots, drinking water, hat, and compass are recommended. During warm weather, light color and lightweight clothing is suggested. Repellent, binoculars, and field guide(s) are also worth bringing. Hunting, trapping, fishing, and camping are prohibited on the privately owned portion.

Directions: Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area is located northwest of Reynolds, Missouri in Sections 25, 30 and 31, T32N, R2W, Corridon 7.5 min. topographic map. Access is from Reynolds County Road 860, off of Missouri Highway 72. From Bunker take state highway 72 east to Reynolds County road 860, 1.0 miles past the intersection of 72 and TT. Turn left on 860 and travel 0.6 miles to an old saw mill for parking. Walk the old road to the Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area sign.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Mark Twain National Forest, Salem Ranger District, Salem, Missouri. (573) 729-6656.