4. LaRue Pine Hills Research Natural Area

Pine Hills took millions of years to form its bedrock before nature’s erosive forces took over and created the 150 foot limestone bluffs that now rise out of the Mississippi floodplain. These massive bluffs, extending roughly 5 miles along the highway, are as impressive today as they were to explorers Lewis and Clark in 1803. “But here putts in some high clifts, the summits of which are crowned with pitch pine & seeder, these rocks are nearly perpendicular in many places 60 feet, and the height of the hills appear to be about 120 feet above the banks which form their base.”

LaRue Swamp, Pine Hills, and Otter Pond are part of a 2,811 acre tract Research Natural Area. Research Natural Areas are permanently protected to maintain biological diversity and to provide places for research and monitoring of undisturbed natural areas. This is an important resting area for migratory birds and waterfowl. Some unusual animals and birds that make LaRue-Pine Hills their home include the bobcat, bald eagle, spring cavefish, eastern wood rat, golden mouse, Mississippi kite and indigo bunting. Some species of reptiles and amphibians are only found in this area. Please enjoy the natural area and the wildlife that resides here, but take note that collection of any kind is prohibited.