Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Versailles, take Highway 52 west 10 miles, then Route FF south 8 miles to the end of the blacktop, turn on Big Buffalo Road west, and watch for area signs.

From Cole Camp, take Route B south 13 miles, then Route WW east to the end of the blacktop. On Big Buffalo Road turn north and go 1.25 miles to the area.


The area is mostly forest. Facilities/features: primitive camping, three interconnected hiking trails, Big Buffalo Lake (six acres), three springs and two permanent streams (Big Buffalo Creek and Pole Hollow Creek). There is one Natural Area: Big Buffalo Fen (40 acres of calcereous wet meadow, deep muck fen and sedge meadow shrub fen with associated upland watershed to buffer the fen).

About This Area

Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area is in east-central Benton and west-central Morgan counties. This 1,977-acre, mostly forested area contains one fishing pond, three springs and 1.50 miles of Big Buffalo Creek.

Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area was acquired in 1964 with Sport Fish Restoration Funds for the purposes of fisheries research in the hatchery ponds and for smallmouth bass habitat research on Big Buffalo Creek. Stream-flow dynamics research is still on-going, but all original fisheries research projects have been finished.

Currently, the area is managed for the long-term health and sustainability of the diverse forest resources. Forest management activities that can be observed on the area include timber stand improvement, tree planting, commercial thinning, even-aged and uneven-aged commercial harvests, woodland restoration, and glade/savanna restoration. All of these practices are implemented using best management practices to protect the soil and water resources of the watershed. Management also includes the preservation of several old growth areas. All practices are carried out in such a way to provide a variety of wildlife habitats to allow the area to support diverse and vibrant wildlife populations.

Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area has one designated natural area, Big Buffalo Creek Fen Natural Area. The fen is a 40-acre portion of the conservation area with natural features that include a small, spring-fed fen, a spring branch and creek, dolomite glades, and forest. Sedges dominate the fen vegetation, and blue flag, marsh coneflower, Riddell's goldenrod, willow, and the rare bushy aster are found here.

General Information

Kansas City



Owned by MDC

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bicycling  Limited to 6 miles of multi-use trails.  
Bird Watching  Good area for riparian and forest-interior species and spring migrants. Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List.  
Camping - Individual Campsites  Primitive camping in designated camping area. There are 10 individual sites for camper units and an open area for tent camping. No amenities provided. 
Fishing - Bass Good population. Big Buffalo Lake (6 acres) is managed for fishing.  
Fishing - Catfish Fair population. Big Buffalo Lake (6 acres)  
Fishing - Sunfish Good population. Big Buffalo Lake (6 acres)  
Hiking  6 miles of multi-use trail.  
Horseback Riding  Limited to 6 miles of multi-use trails. No overnight facilities for horses or any equestrian amenities.  
Hunting-Deer Good population. Fall deer/turkey booklet.  
Hunting-Rabbit Fair population.  
Hunting-Squirrel Good population.  
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Annual Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet and annual Spring Turkey Hunting Information booklet.  
Hunting-Waterfowl-Open Hunting Fair population. Waterfowl hunting is limited to small ponds and lakes. 1.60-mile walk-in access to Big Buffalo Lake.  

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Camping Area - Individual Campsites Big Buffalo Camping Area  10 individual sites for camper units and an open area for tent camping. No amenities provided. 
Parking Lot    

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Designated Natural Area Big Buffalo Creek Fen Natural Area 40.00 acres For more information, visit natural areas.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Big Buffalo Lake 6.00 acres Access is moderately difficult. Requires a 1.60-mile hike from the parking lot.  
Non-Stocked Pond Heron Pond 2.00 acres Not managed for fishing. 
Spring  1000.00 # gallons per day  
Stream - Intermittent  1.00 miles  
Stream - Permanent Pole Hollow Creek 0.70 miles  
Stream - Permanent Big Buffalo Creek 1.50 miles  

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Grassland (non-prairie) 9.00  
Old Field 17.00  
Lakes/Ponds 13.00  
Forest and Woodland 1898.00  
Wetland 40.00 Old hatchery brood ponds and deep muck fen. 
Total Area Acres:1976.70 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Multi-use trail (Moderate) Multi-Use (Hike/Bike/Horse) 6.00 

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Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

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