Hercules Glade Backpacking Loop

MODERATE 8 reviews

Hercules Glade Backpacking Loop is a 9.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Bradleyville, Missouri that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September.

9.9 miles
931 feet





nature trips





55 minutes ago

Great network of trails!! The trails here are well maintained and blazed/marked properly in the most crucial areas, such as creek crossings and trail intersections. The forest service seems to do a great job taking care of this area. There are plenty of campsites out on the trails. We saw very, very little trash while hiking - just a couple of protein bar wrappers. (We are very big on pack-in pack-out.) There is a good mix of forest trails under canopy and open area trails. We stayed at the Pilot trailhead the first night, which has numerous campsites, as well as a community outhouse. We intended on overnighting on the trail, but ended up in a tick-infested spot and couldn't find a suitable campsite along the Tower trail, so decided to just head back to the trailhead.

We hiked the Long Creek trail west to the falls, then doubled back to the Upper Pilot trail, which is mostly open area (lots of sun exposure and no water). We then turned east on the Tower trail, where we tried to set up camp but got run off by the ticks. There was also no water on Tower trail headed east from Upper Pilot. The creek that's on the map was bone dry. Most of the water seemed to be in the southern trails.

We can't wait to get back and explore the other trails!! We fell in love with this area.

trail running
1 month ago

I had a great time here. I started at the tower trailhead and took Long Creek down to the Falls. I found that trail kinda hard to see but it was smooth going. I then continued down to Lower Pilot, then onto Tower trail. Toward the end of that I decided to divert onto Pees Hollow. Then back to the trailhead. I covered just shy of 18 miles in 5 hours (trail running). The maps provided on site were a must.
I didn’t have a compass so I had to judge the sun’s position to find my way at certain points. It all added to the epic journey!

1 month ago

Trekked out to the Falls. No water, just some pools here and there. Hiked about 1/2 mile back and found a campsite that already had a fire ring, so we opted to stay there. Will definitely return to the area...and soon.

5 months ago

Nice hiking area with some good views. Ran across a mama bear and a younger cub just off Tower trail east of Middle trail. Got some growls from mama bear. I later read that black bears don't growl but may grunt, roar, huff, moan or bark but none of those seemed to fit what I heard. It sounded like a deep, from the gut, throaty growl that lasted just 2-3 seconds. I might have been too close to her young one without knowing it as the sun was in my eyes. I stopped and spotted the mama bear about 15 yards to the side of me on the first growl but just the outline of her due to the sun blinding me. I kept walking and she gave me another growl. This time I stopped to make sure I wasn't anywhere near young ones and that she wasn't coming towards me as I took the growls as an aggressive warning. I finally spotted one young cub close to the mama bear and they soon moved in the opposite direction and over the hilltop.
Perhaps the growls were both a call to the young one and a warning to me. It sure got my attention!

5 months ago

Here is my YouTube video review of the area:

5 months ago

There are other good and informative reviews of the Hercules-Glades Wilderness area, but I wanted to put my comments here because this posting more closely resembles what we did. My son and I spent our Thanksgiving Week 2017 doing this loop over 3 days and 2 nights. We started at the Fire Tower Lookout on the east side of the park. This is a great trailhead area (actually two trails start here). There is good parking, some picnic tables, and a dual-porta-potty. The "Pilot Trail" and "Pee's Hollow Trail" head is on the northern end of the parking lot, and the "Long Creek Trail" head is on the west side.

Bring a map and compass. The park has recently been updated with signage, which is a blessing, but a couple of times we still got turned around and the map and compass saved us.

We started westward on the Long Creek Trail which was very nice all the way down to where the water falls would be (they were bone dry in November) The Rock Springs Trail was a bit steep at first but leveled out pretty nicely and transitions into a unique cedar forest. We spent the night about a hundred meters off to the right (north) in a makeshift campsite, which was quite fun. Easy to get turned around in there, so be sure of your bearings.

Next day we continued the hike westward on the Rock Springs Trail until we approached the Devil's Den area, which has a large campsite on both sides of Long Creek (eastern side and western side). The branch to go northward onto the Devil's Den Trail was very difficult to spot with the fallen leaves and there was no signage. But we found it at the back of the first campsite (the one on the east side of the creek) and was able to ascend the very steep incline. After a few heavy breaths the trail basically levels out and leads for a while along several heavily wooded ridges.

The "T" junction between the Lower Pilot Trail to the west and the Upper Pilot Trail to the east was marked with a post and a pile of rocks. We took a quick snack break here and headed east towards Upper Pilot Knob. After a couple of hours we decided to bush-whack it up the creek valley between the two eastern-most hills of Upper Pilot Knob. We were not disappointed. It wasn't that difficult work and the views at the top both northward and southward are spectacular -- probably the best in the park. Both of these adjacent hills have wooded campsites at the top with rock fireplaces and benches, and several additional fireplace areas nearby for overflow and for view-watching. The night sky stars were also amazing on top of Pilot Knob ... it was a clear night.

Next day we bush-whacked back down the northern face of Pilot Knob back to the Pilot Trail and made quick work of it back to the Tower Trailhead, in less than 3 hours. There were a few spots where the inclines were tiring, but overall was a good hike.

Would recommend visiting the Hercules Glades area in the spring after heavy rains to take advantage of the beauty of the waterfalls and creeks/streams throughout the area.

By all means this website http://www.ouachitamaps.com/Hercules.html has the best maps of the area. Recommend that you purchase this rather than the plain topo map. You will need to know the names of the various trail segments to match them when you encounter the signage.

9 days ago