General Watkins Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Benton, take Highway 61 south 3 miles to the south side of the area.
From Oran, take Highway 77 south 1.50 miles to the west side of the area.


Mostly forest (1,007 acres total), but also has a nice mix of 30 wildlife food plots (30 acres total), five native warm season grass fields (20 acres total) and 10 acres of old fields. Facilities/features: camping area, picnic area, nine fishable lakes and ponds (20 acres total).

About This Area

General Watkins Conservation Area is in Scott County, 14 miles north of Sikeston and 15 miles south of Cape Girardeau. The area can be reached from Highway 61 and Highway 77 and from county gravel roads. The Conservation Department purchased the tracts comprising the 1,108-acre area between 1978 and 1997.

The area is named for a famous Missouri statesman and Civil War general, Nathanial Watkins, who lived here and is buried in a small cemetery in the forest.

General Watkins Conservation Area contains a forest type more closely resembling Appalachian than Missouri forests. Sweetgum, American beech, cucumber tree and tulip poplar are found here, along with tree species more common to Missouri, like white and red oak, maple, hickory and walnut. This mesic beech-oak forest type has spicebush, dogwood and paw paw growing in the shrub layer. The ground layer is dominated by Virginia creeper and poison ivy and also includes Christmas fern, broad beech fern and the state-rare beech drops and Virginia pennywort. Beech drops are brown-purple and grow only in beech forests; they are parasitic on beech roots. The pale green pennywort has pale lilac flowers in early spring but is difficult to find being only a few inches tall.

Natural erosion has worn steep-sided canyons up to 50 feet deep through the area's loess soils. People walking near these canyons should be cautious.

During your visit to General Watkins Conservation Area, you may view various forest management practices designed to improve wildlife habitat, maintain watershed quality and enhance tree growth, quality and species composition.

Wildlife management practices on Conservation Department lands include planting fields to serve as food sources for animals and the periodic harvest of timber to perpetuate the forest community and improve forage and cover for wildlife.

General Information




Owned by MDC

  • GPS COORDINATES N 37 DEG 04.533 W 089 DEG 36.442

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Audubon Society of Missouri bird check list.  
Camping - Individual Campsites  Camping area has five defined campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, BBQ grills and gravel pads.  
Camping - Walk-in/Float-in/Backpack  Seasonal closures may apply. 
Fishing - Bass Good population.  
Fishing - Catfish Good population.  
Fishing - Crappie Fair population.  
Fishing - Sunfish Good population. Area ponds are being managed for large sunfish. Special sunfish regulations apply. 
Hiking  Two trails (Cemetery Ridge Trail and Schlosser Loop Trail).  
Hunting-Deer Good population. Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Quail Fair population. Quail hunting allowed under statewide regulations  
Hunting-Rabbit Fair population.  
Hunting-Squirrel Fair population.  
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Fall firearms turkey hunting is prohibited. Turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Other  Two picnic areas with grills and tables. 

Go to Top of Page

Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Boat Ramp - Lake - Concrete Pond 3   
Camping Area - Individual Campsites   Primitive camping area with five defined campsites, picnic tables and fire rings. 
Other   Picnic areas. 
Parking Lot    
Picnic Table   Five in designated camping area and three others in two separate picnic areas. 

Go to Top of Page

Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Fishing Lake or Pond Lookout Mountain Lake (Pond #4) 12.00 acres Twelve acre lake. Walk-in access only. Boats may be carried in (one-half mile rough walk).  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #1 2.00 acres Two acre pond.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #2 1.00 acres One acre pond.   
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #3 1.00 acres Concrete boat ramp on one-acre pond.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #5 2.00 acres Two acre pond.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #6 0.50 acres Half-acre pond.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #7 0.50 acres Half-acre pond.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #8 0.50 acres Half-acre pond.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #9 1.00 acres One-acre pond.  
Other Watkins Cemetery 0.00 count Historic cemetery with General Nathanial Watkins grave. 

Go to Top of Page

Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Crop Land 30.00  
Grassland (non-prairie) 20.00  
Lakes/Ponds 15.00  
Forest and Woodland 1018.99  
Old Field 10.00  
Total Area Acres:1106.99 

Go to Top of Page

Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Schlosser Loop Trail (Easy) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 1.00 
Cemetery Ridge Trail (Moderate) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 1.50 

Go to Top of Page

Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

Go to Top of Page