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Missouri State Parks

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USA Parks
Southeast Region
Alley Spring State Forest
Alley Spring State Forest Rocky Falls © Paul Frame
Water rushing over Rocky Falls after a summer rain.
Bluebird ©
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(lat:37.1756 lon:-91.4682) map location
Alley Spring State Forest, located in southeastern Missouri, is a breathtaking natural oasis known for its picturesque beauty and diverse ecological significance. Encompassing lush forests, crystal-clear streams, and captivating natural springs, the forest offers a serene escape for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. With its towering trees, vibrant wildflowers, and abundant wildlife, Alley Spring State Forest presents a prime opportunity for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the unique plant and animal species that call this enchanting woodland home. Additionally, the focal point of the forest is the iconic Alley Spring, where a vibrant blue spring creates a stunning contrast against the surrounding greenery, adding to the area's undeniable allure. Whether seeking tranquility, adventure, or a chance to immerse oneself in the wonders of nature, Alley Spring State Forest provides a truly remarkable experience for visitors.
History of the Area
Alley Spring State Forest is located in Shannon County, Missouri. The forest is named after Alley Spring, a natural spring that flows into the Jacks Fork River within the forest boundaries. The history of Alley Spring State Forest is closely tied to the developments of the local area.

Native American tribes, including the Osage and Delaware, were the earliest known inhabitants of the region. They relied on the abundant natural resources provided by the forests and rivers, including game for hunting and plants for food and medicinal purposes.

In the early 1800s, European American settlers began to populate the area. They used the forests for timber harvesting, which became an important economic activity in the region. The establishment of sawmills and lumbering operations contributed to the growth of nearby towns, such as Eminence.

Alley Spring gained prominence in the late 19th century when a grist mill was built near the spring. The mill utilized the power of the spring to grind grains, serving local farmers and communities. The town of Alley, named after the spring, emerged around the mill. The Alley Mill and spring became important social hubs in the community, providing a meeting place and supporting local commerce.

In the 1920s, the Missouri State Park Board purchased the land surrounding Alley Spring, establishing Alley Spring State Forest. The aim was to protect the natural beauty and historic significance of the area. Today, the forest includes not only the spring and mill but also diverse ecosystems of oak and pine forests, glades, and riparian areas along the Jacks Fork River.

Alley Spring State Forest continues to attract visitors who are interested in the natural beauty, recreational activities, and historical significance of the area. The Alley Mill and spring still stand today as an iconic symbol of the region's history and a testament to the significance of water resources in the development of Missouri.
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1. Alley Spring Overlook Trail: This 0. 4-mile trail offers a short, easy hike with stunning views of the historic red mill and turquoise spring below.

2. River Trail: A moderate difficulty level trail that stretches for about 1 mile along Jacks Fork River offering beautiful riverfront sights and sounds.

3. Story's Creek Interpretive Loop: An educational hiking path spanning approximately one-third of a mile featuring interpretative signs detailing local flora, fauna, geology and history throughout its course.

4. Devil's Well Lake Nature Trail: Approximately half-a-mile long loop around an underground lake where you can observe unique geological features like karst topography as well as diverse plant species native to Missouri forests.

5. Broadfoot Fields Hiking Trails: These trails cover over two miles through open fields once used for farming but now home to various wildlife including deer, turkey & rabbits among others; perfect spot for bird watching too!

6. Spring Branch National Recreation Trail: It is roughly three-quarters-of-a-mile in length providing hikers with scenic vistas overlooking the clear waters flowing from Alley Springs into Jack's Fork River.

7. Ozark Long Distance Hike Route: Part of this extensive network passes through Alley Spring State Forest allowing experienced hikers access to rugged wilderness areas not seen by most visitors.

8. Wild Horse Hollow Backpacking Campsite Access Path: This less than quarter-of-a-miles-long pathway leads backpackers towards secluded camping spots within dense forested sections near Wildhorse Hollow creek area.

9. Hickory Ridge Multi-use Trails: These are shared use paths stretching several miles across varied terrains suitable both beginners or seasoned trekkers who enjoy horse riding or mountain biking besides traditional walking /hiking activities.

10. Alley Mill Spur Line Walking Track: Around half-an-hour walk on flat terrain taking visitors close up view historical gristmill building dating back late nineteenth century era.

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Area Campgrounds
Discovery Ministries
HC 3 Box 32
Eminence, MO
Eminence Canoes, Cottages
Highway 19 North
Eminence, MO

The Alley Spring State Forest is located in Shannon County, Missouri. To get there from St. Louis, start by taking I-44 W towards Rolla for approximately 80 miles. Then take exit 186B to merge onto US-63 S toward West Plains and continue on this road for about 70 miles.

Once you reach the town of Willow Springs, turn left onto MO-76 E/MO-ZZ/US Hwy 60 E/Main Street and follow it for around half a mile before turning right onto Main Street/East Broadway Avenue (MO-H). Continue on this road until you reach Eminence.

In Eminence, turn left at the intersection with MO-N/North Grand Ave/Spring Valley Road and drive northbound for approximately six miles until you see signs directing you to Alley Spring State Forest. Turn right into the forest entrance off of North Highway N.

Follow the main park road through beautiful wooded areas until reaching your desired destination within Alley Spring State Forest.

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Missouri State Parks