Bluffwoods Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From St. Joseph, take Highway 59 south 8 miles, then east on Bethel Road 0.60 mile to area entrance.


Bluffwoods and Goodell Annex overlook the Missouri River floodplain just south of St. Joseph. Both areas are mostly forested with scattered open grasslands. The Bluffwoods area has numerous service roads and several established trails for hiking. The Forest Nature Trail is Disabled Accessible while the Lone Pine and Maple Falls loops offer scenic overlooks of the Missouri River floodplain looking west into Kansas.

About This Area

The Bluffwoods and Goodell Conservation Areas are located just nine miles south of St. Joseph in the Missouri River loess hills in southwestern Buchanan County.

Bluffwoods was acquired in the mid-1970s for the purpose of providing a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities and to maintain a portion of the last remaining oak-hickory forested areas in northwest Missouri.

The forest on Bluffwoods is home to several different kinds of trees as one would expect including: northern red oak, chinkapin oak, basswood, black walnut, pawpaw and the spectacular fall color of the sugar maples. Other woodland plants that can be found include Adam and Eve orchids and showy orchids. The remaining acres on Bluffwoods consist of a mix of old crop fields, abandoned pasturelands, and homesteads (no structures remain) and a few native grass openings, likely remnants of dry loess hill prairies.

Steep bluffs adjacent to the Missouri River valley provide numerous vantage points for scenic views that can be accessed by service roads and trail loops. The Forest Nature Trail is a gently sloped, paved, disabled accessible trail system that winds thru forested and openland habitats. Restroom privies and picnic pavilion, both disabled accessible are at the trail head. The Kerlin Creek Picnic Area is located at the trail head of the Maple Falls and Lone Pine trails and has several picnic tables and fire rings available along with a disabled accessible privy. There are two wet weather springs and a waterfall that can also be found on the Maple Falls Trail loop.

Over 100 woodland species of wildlife can be found on Bluffwoods including: turkey, squirrel, raccoons, deer, foxes, and numerous species of birds. As a matter of fact this area has been designated by Audubon Missouri as an Important Bird Area (IBA). IBAs are sites that have been identified by Audubon as those that are the most crucial for bird populations, due to their abundance and/or diversity of birds present. Find out more about the IBA program. Several songbirds whose numbers have recently declined, overwinter in the tropics or migrate through or nest in the forests of Bluffwoods Conservation Area.

Bottomland wetlands and forests and woodlands in the nearby bluffs are among the variety of natural communities found in the Iatan/Weston Missouri River Corridor Conservation Opportunity Area and Priority Forest Landscape between Kansas City and Saint Joseph. The Missouri Department of Conservation, Audubon Missouri, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and interested private landowners have partnered to conserve high quality marshes, wetlands, woodlands and forests for neotropical migratory songbirds and species of conservation concern in this opportunity area.

General Information




Owned by MDC

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Interior forest bird species are abundant. Bluffwoods has been designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Audubon Missouri. Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List.  
Camping - Individual Campsites   
Hiking  Two natural surface foot trails (Maple Falls and Lone Pine) with vistas of the Missouri River valley. Some steep terrain may be encountered. The Forest Nature Trail has an asphalt surface and is disabled-accessible. Picnic and privy facilities at both trail heads.  
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.  

Go to Top of Page

Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Camping Area - Individual Campsites    
Parking Lotaccessible  2 ADA  
Pavilionaccessible  Picnic pavilion is located at the Forest Nature Trail on Bethel Road.  
Picnic Tableaccessible  1 ADA  
Privy/Restroomaccessible  2 ADA  

Go to Top of Page

Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Wildlife Watering Hole  11 2.00 acres  

Go to Top of Page

Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Forest and Woodland 2040.00 Mix of upland oak-hickory forest species, very diverse.  
Old Field 70.00  
Native Prairie 20.00 Small remnant prairie and planted warm season grass. 
Grassland (non-prairie) 150.00 Open areas planted to mix of warm season grasses. 
Lakes/Ponds 1.01 Access is by foot only. 
Total Area Acres:2281.31 

Go to Top of Page

Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Meadow Trail (Easy)accessibleDisabled-Accessible Trail 0.30 
Prairie Trail (Easy)accessibleDisabled-Accessible Trail 0.20 
Maple Falls Trail (Difficult) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 1.50 
Lone Pine Trail (Difficult) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 1.50 
Bluff Trail (Moderate) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.60 

Go to Top of Page

Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

Go to Top of Page