Indian Trail Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Salem, take Highway 19 northeast 12 miles to the area.


This large area is primarily forest. Facilities/features: primitive camping, Blackwell Lake (35 acres), picnic area, numerous small ponds, two permanent streams (Fishwater Creek, Crooked Creek).

About This Area

Indian Trail Conservation Area covers 13,503 acres in northeast Dent County, between Salem and Steelville. The entrance to the area is off Highway 19.

The area is mostly forested, but also includes food plots, ponds.

The area contains an intricate mosaic of dolomite glades and chert savannas with open-grown trees on exposed slopes. The canopy of the slopes is dominated by post, black, white, and blackjack oaks and hickories. The ground cover of the glades and savannas includes little bluestem, big bluestem, sideoats, grama and Indian grasses and wildflowers, such as white and purple prairie clovers and pale purple coneflower. Dolomite bedrock outcrops and ledges are scattered throughout the glades.

Formerly, the area was the site of the Sligo Iron Company. Heavy cutting of cordwood to fuel the smelters depleted local timber supplies, eventually forcing the iron works to close.

Private owners acquired the Indian Trail area in 1906 for use as rangeland. Grazing and burning to encourage grass growth continued until the state purchased the tracts comprising the area from 1924 to 1927, largely in an effort to control wildfires.

One route of the Trail of Tears went through Indian Trail Conservation Area. Markers and a plaque depict the Indians' trail and describes their ordeal.

From 1930 until 1960, the area served as a game refuge, providing deer and turkey for the state's restocking programs.

Civilian Conservation Corps crews, based at the area from 1933 to 1946, built most of the area's 55 miles of access roads, constructed the pond and planted pine trees in many of the open areas.

During your visit to Indian Trail Conservation Area, you may view various forest improvement practices designed to improve wildlife habitat, maintain watershed quality and enhance tree growth, quality, and species composition. Any change in forest and woodland structure is temporary as removed vegetation is quickly replaced by vigorous growth.

General Information




Owned by MDC,Agreement

  • On Blackwell Lake bait transported or held in containers with water is prohibited.
  • On Blackwell Lake only electric trolling motors may be used.
  • This area has a 200 yard shooting range that is disabled accessible at 25, 50, 100 and 200 yards.

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List. Designated an Important Bird Area by Audubon Missouri.  
Camping - Individual Campsites  There are 5 primitive signed designated camping areas. No amenities provided. 
Camping - Primitive Area  No amenities provided. 
Camping - Walk-in/Float-in/Backpack  Seasonal closures may apply. 
Fishing - Bass Good population.  
Fishing - Other Fair population. Fair numbers of chain pickerel can be found in Blackwell Lake.  
Fishing - Sunfish Fair population.  
Hiking  No designated trails, but extensive hiking opportunites along interior roads and service roads. 
Horseback Riding  There are no designated horse trails, but horses may be riden on the 50 miles of roads open to vehicular traffic.  
Hunting-Deer Good population. Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Squirrel Good population.  
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Nature Viewing  Our glades and woodlands offer excellent viewing of plants, flowers and wildlife. The area offers some good fall colors viewing along the many drivable roads.  
Other  A four station shooting range is available for shooting sports. The range facility includes a 25, 50, 100 and 200 yard shooting lanes. 

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Boat Ramp - Lake - Concrete Blackwell Lake   
Camping Area - Individual Campsites   No amenities provided at the sites. Water is available at the Indian Trail shop. This is located along the road 10-14 four miles from the main entrance at highway 19 (see area brochure). 
Fire Tower Indian Trail Fire Tower  Visitors may climb the tower for viewing at their own risk, but the building at the top is not open to the public.  
Fishing Jetty/PlatformaccessibleBlackwell Lake   
OtheraccessibleShooting Range  Shooting range is disabled accessible on the 25, 50, 100 and 200 yard shooting lanes.  Range is closed Mondays for maintenance.  
Parking LotaccessibleShooting Range  Parking lot and privy are disabled accessible. 
Parking LotaccessibleBlackwell Lake  Parking lot allows disabled access to the lake and privy.  
Privy/RestroomaccessibleBlackwell Lake  Parking lot allows disabled access to the Fishing lake and privy.  
Privy/RestroomaccessibleShooting Range  Parking lot allows disabled access to shooting range and privy.  

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Designated Natural Area Indian Trail 700.00 acres Indian Trail Natural Area represents a dolomite glade and chert savanna natural community complex. Other high quality natural communities on the area include a prairie fen, fens, and a dry-mesic bottomland forest.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Blackwell Lake 35.00 acres Open to shoreline fishing. Electric trolling motors only.  
Fishless Pond  58 6.00 acres These are wildlife watering holes. 
Other  70.00 count An old-growth shortleaf pine savanna remnant, one of only a handfull across the state, can be found in the south west corner along road 10-29. Prescribed fire and mechanical thinning are being used to restore this extremey rare natural community. 
Spring Blackwell Spring 0.10 # gallons per day This is located on the south end of Blackwell lake along road 10-21.  
Spring Plugtown Hollow Spring 0.10 # gallons per day This is located in the hollow south of road 10-23 and down from food plot #25.  
Spring Rattlesnake Spring 0.10 # gallons per day This is located in the south east corner of the area.  It is about 0.50 mile from food plot #21.  
Stream - Permanent Crooked Creek 2.00 miles This is an intermittent stream. It supports small populations of aquatic life, but provides no fishing opportunities. 
Stream - Permanent Fishwater Creek 2.50 miles This is an intermittent stream. It supports small populations of aquatic life, but provides no fishing opportunities. 

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Forest and Woodland 12143.00  
Old Field 10.00  
Other 50.04  
Crop Land 100.00 These acres are divided up and amount to approximately 50 small 1 to 5 acre areas. These are planted in various grains and/or green browse wildlife food plots. 
Glade 300.00 These offer excellent areas for viewing various plants and wildflowers. 
Savanna 900.00 These offer excellent areas for viewing various plants and wildflowers. 
Total Area Acres:13503.04 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
No Designated Trails

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Shooting Range General Information






1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset, unless otherwise posted

Click Shooting Ranges for more information.

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