Little Dixie Lake Conservation Area is in Callaway County, west of Kingdom City. This region of Missouri received settlers from Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The settlers’ strong cultural and political ties with the south resulted in the name of Little Dixie.
The Conservation Department acquired Little Dixie’s 467 acres in 1957, through the damming of Owl Creek, 205-acre Little Dixie Lake was created. Additional purchases have expanded the area to 733 acres.
Before Department ownership, much of the property had been grazed. Today, the area’s oak-hickory forests have heavy undergrowth, and once-open pastures have reverted to various stages of old-field habitat. Stands of warm-season grasses and other prairie plants are managed by prescribed burns. Numerous small, fishless ponds have been constructed for woodland wildlife. In addition, the Department constructed 22 ponds on the area for fisheries research, including vegetation control, pond stocking rates, fish reproduction, and fish rearing techniques. Both Department personnel and graduate students from the University of Missouri use the area for research.
There are several miles of trails at Little Dixie Lake. While rugged, the trails are close enough to Columbia to ride or hike and feel like you’re a long way from civilization.