15-minute (.5 mile) walk,
The Point is the highest spot on a rocky ridge 80 feet above Hillers Creek. Lichen, moss, cream wild indigo, lowbush blueberry, and blackjack oak grow there. Native Americans used the area more than 1,500 years ago. From the Point a natural mowed, rocky trail descends to the creek.
12-minute (.36 mile) walk,
mowed trail, overlook
platform with bench
On the land high above Hillers Creek, oak and hickory trees grow scattered on the area we call the savanna. It’s a transition between prairie and woods. Along the edge of the savanna, fragile moss and lichen cover the rocky bluff tops. Sandstone just under the surface creates a thin, acidic soil that supports flowers such as birds-foot violet and wood betony that bloom in spring.
25-minute (.83 mile) walk,
mowed and rocky trails,
overlook platform with
bench under roof
Hillers Creek flows past bluffs through lush bottomland woods. It swells over its banks in heavy spring rain and settles in scattered pools and gravel in late summer. See a fossil coral reef that formed 360 million years ago. Trees include pawpaw, sycamore, redbud and butternut. Blue-eyed Mary flowers carpet the bottomland in April.
5-minute (.14 mile) walk,
paved trail, benches,
Stroll down a paved path from the PGT Center past open woods to Beaver Lake. Water lilies cover the lake. Bald cypress and their knobby “knees” edge the shore. Walk the mowed trail around the lake to see nearby prairie flowers of butterfly weed and blazing star.
7-minutes (.2 mile) via
mowed trail from
South of the PGT Center, mowed trails meander past native prairie grasses and flowers. Indian paintbrush, false blue indigo, butterfly weed, coneflowers, and blazing star make seasonal displays. Indian grass and big bluestem get tall in August when the sunflowers make a yellow show. Stone steps lead up into the prairie from the paved trail at the Lotus Ponds, or you can pass along the prairie edge when you walk the mowed trail to Hillers Creek.
7-minute (.21 mile) walk,
paved trail, bench,
Imagine yourself in a southern wetland, where exotic-looking white flowers of American lotus and water lilies bloom. You might also see cattails, corkwood, ducks, turtles, muskrats and mink. Rest at the stone circle or nearby bench. Or take the grassy path to touch the lotus leaves and cypress knees.
distance: .35 mile
A paved walkway heads off the PGT Center porch. You can follow it down to Beaver Lake (there is a gentle slope), where it ends at the stone platform with two benches. You can then return on the walkway and head south to the Lotus Ponds. (Just before the ponds there is a brief, steeper rise in the trail.) A stone circle and bench provide a stop along the way. Then the paved trail loops back to return to the PGT Center. (On the way back, stone steps rise up off the trail heading west into the Indigo Prairie past the "mima mound." From the top of that you can see across the Prairie.)
distance: 25 minutes (.83 mile) from PGT Center; .47 mile from the Savanna.
Take the mowed trail just off the paved walkway to head south and west from the PGT Center to Hillers Creek. You'll wind down past Cow Pond and Farm Pond, then up past the Inidigo Prairie and through the Savanna. Stop at the Valley Overlook for a great view. Then you can continue across the rocky ridge that leads to the Point. The trail then descends gradually to Hillers Creek. It's a bit uneven across the ridge, but not especially difficult. It takes about 25 minutes to walk from the PGT Center to Hillers Creek and then bench at the Creek Overlook. If you want to feel you're in the Ozarks, this is the trail to take.
distance: various lengths
difficulty: Easy to moderate
Numerous side trails meander off the main mowed trail to Hillers Creek and off the paved trail to Beaver Lake and Lotus Ponds.
The first bench on your way to Beaver Lake lets you sit and enjoy wide view across prairie to the lake beow. Liatris and other summer flowers bloom there. The open woods on the other side of the trail has scattered spring flowers along with the dogwood, redbud and black haw trees.
The large blossoms of American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) open mid-summer mornings and close late in the day. You can enjoy the view from a stone circle platform or nearby bench just off the paved trail. Or take the large rock stepping stones and path to get up close to the lotus leaves and cypress knees.
The Valley Overlook includes a bench and a special viewing platform created to protect the moss and lichen on the bluff edge, while letting you get a sweeping view across the Hillers Creek valley. Dogwoods bloom among the rocky outcrops of the bluff hillsides in the spring.
A rocky path leads up from the ancient coral reef in Hillers Creek to the Creek Overlook. It's a platform with a roof-covered bench—perfect for place to sit and enjoy the sights or find shelter from rain. From it we've seen raccoons forage the water's edge and birds such as great blue herons, wild turkey and pileated woodpeckers. A footpath leads off the other side of the overlook down to the loop walk in Butternut Bottom, or you can take the mowed trail going uphill behind the overlook to return to the visitor center via the Hillers Creek trail.
Bluffs tower over the creek while pawpaw trees line the path on the other side. The Devonian coral reel is a just a little further down the creek southeast of here.
The paved trail to Beaver Lake ends at a stone platform with two benches. You can relax there, or walk the mowed, grassy trail around the lake for a closer view of the nearby prairie or the cypress trees and their "knees." Wooded hillsides slope away below the lake dam.