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Big Oak Tree State Park
Big Oak Tree State Park is a state park about… big oak trees! It is home to some of the largest trees in both Missouri and the nation. The 120 foot canopy of Oak and Hickory trees towers above the marsh and swamp land formed by the Mississippi River. The swamp is home to many species of wetland birds, so it is a popular destination for birdwatchers… bring your binoculars!
Located at the top of the “boot heel” of Missouri, Big Oak Tree State Park is in far southeast Missouri. Just off the Mississippi River, it is near the Missouri-Kentucky border, and the Kentuckey-Tennessee border. The state park is about a twenty minute drive from I-55.
The Boardwalk Trail at Big Oak Tree State Park is a three-quarter mile elevated walkway through the park that takes you through the forest of oak, hickory, cypress and ash trees. The walkway is elevated so you can walk through the swamp, and benches are located along the boardwalk for you to rest.. Remember, it is a swamp, so don’t forget to bring insect repellant! Also, consider wearing long-sleeves and pants instead of shorts.
The Bottomland Trail is a one and a half mile rugged trail that goes through the park. The trail goes through the bottomland forest, that used to cover most of the Mississippi River bottomlands through southeast Missouri. These forests were cleared away long ago, in order to develop that land for farming. This trail will take you to some of Missouri’s tallest trees, including ash and oak trees.
The Bur Oak at Big Oak Tree State Park stands 154 feet tall, compared to an average Bur Oak of 85 feet. The bur oak is one of the most massive oak trees, but it is also one of the slowest-growing. A bur oak will grow at a rate of 1 foot per year, and the average tree can live to be 200 or 300 years old. The oldest bur oaks can live to be 400 years old.
The persimmon tree at Big Oak Tree State Park stands 133 feet tall, while the average persimmon is 60 feet tall. The American persimmon tree is native to the eastern United States, and is a fruit-bearing tree. Occasionally persimmon fruit is used to make a steamed pudding, and its wood has been used as a subsitute for ebony as a decorative wood.
- Rose-breasted Grosbeak
The rose-breasted grosbeak is a seed-eatign bird in the cardinal family. It breeds in the northern United States and Canada, and migrates to Mexico and the Carribean for the winter.
- Carolina Wren
The Carolina Wren is a common species of wren, and is the state bird of South Carolina.
- Downy Woodpecker
The smallest North American woodpecker.
- Hooded Warbler
An insect eating bird, it breeds in the eastern United States, and migrates to Mexico and the Carribean for the winter.
- Rufous-sided Towhee
A large species of sparrow.
- Carolina chickadee
A small bird, that unlike many birds, does not migrate for the winter.