First, here's the HIKE!
In order to get to the trail head, you will take Hwy 177 (Big Bend Road) north through Cape Girardeau, MO. You'll then turn right (East) on old Missouri Route V, then turn right on Cape Rock road. You'll discover the parking lot for the trail on your right. This fairly worn trail will take you through Twin Trees Park, across a narrow band of Juden Creek Conservation Area, and then ending (somewhat abruptly) in the Kelso Sanctuary Natural Area. This trail does have inclines/declines to it and is not surfaced, so I would consider it to be a "moderate" hike.
American Beech that are scattered throughout the woods provided me an explanation of why so many songbirds were to be heard here, as they love to devour the fruit of this tree. Interesting note on these Beech trees is that this is about as far West as you will find them, and one of the few places that they grow naturally in Missouri.
As we continued we noticed TONS of wildflowers just beginning to emerge along the trail, with nearly every color of nature's vivid palette brilliantly brushed on to their petals. I would find out only later, that this area is known for the migratory birdwatching and the wildflowers. In fact, Wildflower Walks are sometimes provided during spring by the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center so be sure to check their page if you're heading out there!
suspicious 2009 brush fire, can still be seen on many of the trees and shrubs that line a good portion of the trail as it passes through the Juden Creek area.
|Springdale Bird Sanctuary? Hmm.....|
Warning... History stuff below:
Kelso Sanctuary Natural Area began its life in 1937 as the Springdale Bird Sanctuary, when Judge and Mrs. I.R. Kelso donated 20 acres of land to the Audubon Society of Missouri in June of 1937, an additional 7 acres was added soon after. At some time during the 1960's or 1970's the area changed names to the I.R. Kelso Wildlife Sanctuary and I assume later changed to its current designation. As of today, the area consists of 23 acres of wooded area (according to the Missouri Department of Conservation), which is owned by the Audubon Society of Missouri and managed by the Biology department of Southeast Missouri State University. I have also read that the University has leased the land from the Audubon Society of Missouri for a dollar per year since 1962, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me! The Kelso Sanctuary has had multiple bridges, all of which crossed Juden Creek, and all of which no longer exist due to flooding. However, only one (of two originally) of the small birdhouses still tops the gate that led to the entrance and can easily be spotted from Hwy 177 (Big Bend Road) as you approach the Juden Creek Conservation Area turn. Rumor has it that there is a geocache located nearby as well...
Juden Creek Hiking Map
Juden Creek Conservation Area
Kelso Sanctuary Natural Area
Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center
Audubon Society of Missouri Checklist for Juden Creek
Juden Creek Hike Set on Flickr
f/8 and Be There (blog on Springdale Bird Sanctuary history by Fred Lynch of the Southeast Missourian Newspaper)
Southeast Missourian Photo Gallery of Juden Creek Fire (Photos by Kit Doyle)
This is NOT the Home of the Birds (blog entry by Ken Steinhoff)
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