Near Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area stands mid-Missouri’s greatest natural landmark. The stalwart tree has withstood centuries of storms, droughts, floods, and vandalism.
As the largest burr oak in Missouri, the tree is tied with another in Kentucky for the title of national champion (largest) burr oak tree. It would take four full-grown men to be able to wrap their arms completely around the trunk, which boasts an impressive 287-inch circumference. A huge gathering of picnickers could relax in the shade under the 90-foot-tall tree’s 130-foot spread.
The tree is estimated to be between 380 and 400 years old, which means it’s older than all but the very first few European settlements in North America and has witnessed centuries of United States history. Lewis and Clark even passed by the tree on their journey up the Missouri River.
This tree is nothing if not resilient. As the only tree for 1,000 feet in any direction, it has survived multiple lightning strikes. In 1993, floodwaters swallowed the land and rose to six feet above the ground. On other years, droughts have threatened to parch the behemoth plant.
The tree has also sadly been the victim of vandalism, but efforts are being made to prevent further damage to the iconic oak. Because the tree is so old, scientists have tried to examine its genetic material to help prolong its life.
Know Before You Go
From downtown Columbia, take Providence Road south until it turns into Route K. Follow Route K until it turns into Burr Oak road, then take Burr Oak Road until the tree is on your right.