I was lucky enough to find the woods in my lifetime, but not till just a few years ago. I lead that high pressure lifestyle, got to get the job done cann't wait till tomorrow!! However, I was lucky enough to walk into the woods one day. It was a beautiful day, sunny, cool, during the autumn when the colors were just coming out. It was the first time in my life that I actually looked at a tree, looked at the bark, the color in the leaves. It was the first time in my life I even noticed the moss on a dead tree lying on the ground and wondered why? The air in the woods is so different, fresh, clean, one could say even sparkling if they really use their imagination, but to really think about it... it all begins there with the trees. The air is as clean and fresh as it can be right in the woods..
I have lived here almost all my life and walked in the woods lots of times, but maybe it is my age that is different now, maybe it is because of my kids, maybe it is because I like to just walk to be free of the everyday static... Phones. But you can really re energize yourself by just simply walking in the woods, take a moment and enjoy the sites along the trails. Even better, next time you come to Wildwood take a hike and see it all for yourself..
Located on the Meramec River just north of Steelville, Zahorsky Woods is an ideal place for a nature hike in the spring, summer, or fall. This fifty-six acre woodland is enhanced by a mixture of ridges, ravines, bluffs and bottomlands with a diversity of natural communities. During even a short visit to this site, one can sample a broad range of interesting topographic features that characterize the Upper Ozark Region.
Zahorsky Woods Nature Preserve was given to the Conservancy in 1974 by Elizabeth and Joseph Cushing in memory of Mrs. Cushing's parents, Dr. and Mrs. John Zahorsky. A Pioneer physician, Dr. Zahorsky practiced pediatrics in the St. Louis area from around the turn of the century until his retirement many years later. A sign honoring the Zahorskys marks the southern corner of the preserve.
Geologically, Zahorsky Woods is part of the Salem Plateau, an ancient uplifted plain that has been carved and dissected by rivers and streams for thousands of years. Here, near the Meramec River, the alluvials soils of the floodplain support a bottomland forest dominated by sycamore and silver maple with clearweed, goldenglow, wood nettle, poison ivy, and Virginia wild rye in the understory. Other portions of the bottomland contain young, closed canopy stands of box elder and silver maple. The floodplain has an eeriness about it that is enchanting; that is if you don't mind getting your feet wet, for flooding is frequent.
Rising nearly 100 feet above the floodplain in the northeast corner of Zahorsky Woods is a steep dolomite bluff overlooking the river. The loose talus slopes on the sides of the bluff support chinquapin oak, hackberry,and musclewood, but the species composition changes at the top of the bluff. There, interspersed among widely spaced blackjack oaks are small glades showcasing a variety of glade forbs and grasses such as Missouri black-eyed Susan and side oats grama.
On the steep south-and-west facing slopes of the bluff and nearby ridges, the glade community blends into upland chert forest. Post oak, white oak and black hickory comprise the over-story on these dry, acidic upland soils. Sun-loving species such as leadplant, purple aster, and dittany can be found in the more open glades. additional vegetation changes occur on the north and east sides of slopes and in ravine bottoms. Deeper, less-acidic soils in these areas support flowering dogwood, serviceberry, and sugar maple as well as Virgina creeper, bare-stemmed tick trefoil,and large-flowered bellwort. Wild Turkey can be seen frequently sauntering through the woods.
Credit Discover Natural Missouri A guide to Exploring The Nature Conservancy Preserves
Photo Credits Carey Moritz Unique Photos Online © 2006 All rights reserved.