Hiking in Branson Country

The Branson area is home to some of the best hiking in the 417!  It’s often overlooked because of all the city lights and bustling Branson Strip.  However, beyond that is some the most beautifully scenic terrain and the Ozarks Mountains!  Take a few hours and enjoy a hike in the woods!  There are three trail systems in the Branson area:  Paul and Ruth Henning Conservation Area, Lakeside Forest Wilderness Trails, and White River Valley Trails.   Escape into the woods and traipse along these well-maintained and marked trails!

Word to the wise before you go hiking!  Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and any medication that you might need.  Water sources aren’t available on any of these trails.  Also, apply sunscreen and bug spray to prevent future regrets!  (“If we had no bugs attachin’, we’d never know the joys of scratchin’!”)  If you’re hiking alone, please let someone know where you are (You’re mom worries about this kind of stuff.  She’d appreciate a head’s up, you know...).  Bring your phone!  Not only can you capture pictures of spectacular views, some critters, and (of course) selfies, but you can also snap a picture of the trail map!  Because there are multiple trails that intersect each other, you can easily turn a 2.3 mile hike into 5.6 miles!  No bueno!  And lastly, mind the nature!  Missouri is full of squirrels, snacks, deer, and bears that prefer to mind their own business.  Don’t bug ‘em!  Take a picture!  Observe them.  Don’t bother them.  They’re really cool, until you get in their space.  Then they’re like “Bro...I’m gonna bite you!”  
 
Scenic View!

Paul and Ruth Henning Conservation Area is 1,534 acres that was gifted to the area that is home to one of the BEST scenic views in the Branson area.  Lots of people visit this area without ever stepping foot on a trail.  However, they are missing out on seeing the White River Basin’s glades (or locally referred to as “balds”).  You may recognize the local Ozark’s historical reference to the vigilante group, The Baldknobbers.  Paul and Ruth Henning Conservation Area has trails that range from 0.5 miles to 3.9 miles.  The trails are wide in most areas.  They are rocky and uneven, which can be problematic when you see the hillsides full of wildflowers!  Save this link for a trail map.  The main access is located just north of Branson on West 76.  
 
Lakeside Trails Are Clearly Marked
 
Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is located smack-dab in middle of Branson.  It is easily accessible at the junction of Hwy 76 and Fall Creek Road.  This trail system is maintained by friends of the City of Branson.  Recently updates were made at the trailhead with picnic tables, grills, and a pavilion.  These trails are well marked and easily followed with the assistance of a map.  The property was originally owned by Dr.Owens and you can visit the site of his family homestead and learn more about this foundational family.  Also, you can catch glimpses of Taneycomo Lake from the homestead as well.  From the Owen’s homestead, follow the trail that includes 315 stone steps (this is also how you get back out...unless you have a young strapping man who is willing to carry you out) to see a couple of small caves and (during wet weather) a waterfall!  Save this link for a trail map!
 

 
The White River Trail System is located close to Table Rock State Park.  This system welcomes hikers, but is uniquely designed for mountain bikers.  You’ll notice that some of the trails are banked for cyclists.  A little trail etiquette:  mountain bikers have the right of way.  Step off the trail and let them peddle through!  There are three different trail head’s, but the most popular is the trailhead for the red trail.  Be sure to get a map or snap a picture of the map as you start.  You can make this hike as long as you want by hiking multiple loops that all interconnect.  This trail system is a favorite because of its views of Table Rock Dam.  Also, if you're interested in renting a mountain bike while in town, check out Downhill Bike Shop in Branson!

You’ll enjoy your time hiking around the Branson area and won’t regret the time spent in the woods.  Remember the trail tips that were suggested above to keep hiking safe!  And be on the lookout of the elusive Sasquatch!

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