A brilliantly designed and executed trail loops through a small but varied landscape of glades, forest and creek bottoms. Valley View Glades Natural Area is located west of Hillsboro in Jefferson County, about 40 minutes south I-270 down MO 21. MO 21 is four-lane divided highway through Jefferson County to where it ends at route B (paved). Go right on B 4 miles or so to Valley View Glades (parking on left).

See the Department of Conservation's website for information about and directions to Valley View Glades.

Google maps just recently located Valley View Glades:

It is an easy place to find. The road is paved to the parking lot, which is also paved. The entrance is clearly signed. There are no restrooms.

If you're in the area, and you have the time, you might also want to check out Victoria Glades, which is five or ten minutes away, on the other side of Hillboro. Lunch should be possible in Hillsboro, so perhaps an outing might include a visit to Victoria Glades in the morning, lunch in Hillsboro, and an afternoon at Valley View Glades.

Valley View Glades is a small area (a little more than 200 acres), much of which consists of large, open limestone glades. It's not your usual thick Ozark forest. There is, however, considerable variety in the landscape. Besides the glades, the trail visits a ridge top, a stand of substantial hardwoods, and a couple of small wet-weather creeks.

The trail is loop of about 2 1/2 miles, connected to the parking lot by a short spur. The trail is obvious and well signed. Whoever laid out the trail did a thoughtful job of it, because the trail seems to traverse every interesting spot in the area. The result is that the area seems more expansive than it really is, and the trail is far more satisfying that its distance would seem to indicate.

Valley View Glades is a great place to spend two or three hours (or more, if you decide to linger over a picnic lunch and a book). People looking for a clear trail to follow and varied landscapes along the way will find it especially enjoyable. I suspect that it's a favorite among the locals, so expect to see all manner and combination of fellow hikers, all out for the same casual experience.

If you can visit a day or so after rain, you'll likely see water running in the two wet weather creeks traversed by the trail. I'm looking forward to trip back in late spring (May?). When I last visited in the winter, the dried vegetation suggested that the glades may offer some suggestion of wildflowers; I don't expect nonstop fields of color, but I hope to see more than usual.