Hiking

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  ~John Muir

Hiking around Branson, or anywhere in Ozark Mountain Country, is an outstanding way to enjoy nature at it’s finest and to melt your cares away. Ozark Mountain Region offers some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the US. Enjoy easy to moderate hikes through unique glades and beautiful forested woods, or more challenging hikes past scenic overlooks, rugged hollows, and waterfalls, or strenuous extended overnight backpacking trips in mountain wilderness. The Ozark Mountain Region offers year-round hiking adventures for all ages. Whatever trail you pick, keep an eye out for our abundant wildlife: wild turkey, fox, lizards, bald eagles and herds of deer in the lush Ozark Mountain Region forests.

For trail Descriptions, access and information, click on the links below:

Mark Twain National Forest

Hercules Glades

Piney Creek Wilderness

Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Lakeside Wilderness Hiking Area

Busiek State Forest

Shepherd of Hills Hatchery Trail

Branson Landing River Walk

Dewey Short – Tablerock Lakeshore Trail

Stockstill Park Walking Path

Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area

A few hundred yards south of the neon signs of the Dick Clark Theater lies a beautiful 130 acre parcel of land that is one of Branson’s most picturesque  hiking areas. Tucked away but easy to find, the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is located on a bluff above Lake Taneycomo. The Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area consists of two woodland trails that cross the land that was once the Lyle Owen family homestead. The trailhead is located on Fall Creek road, only 100 yards off of  hwy 76 (the Strip). There are trail maps posted at the trailhead.

Trail 1.

The  upper part of this trail is a 1/2 mile (one way) that winds through the forest.  Here mature trees dominate and the fairly level terrain makes for an easy walk.  Once you have passed through the woodlands, you will come to a wooden  deck with a beautiful overlooking view of the While River Valley and Lake Taneycomo.  Just past the wooden deck you come upon the old farmhouse of Dr. Lyle Owen. Near the farmhouse is the top of a windingLakeside Wilderness Hiking Trail Branson fieldstone staircase, made  of  hand-laid stone steps that lead down the bluff toward Lake Taneycomo.  Mr. Owens and several others worked for two years, 1937 and 1938, to construct these steps.  Fairly steep in design, this part of the trail takes some care, as the hand-laid stone steps are a little uneven and of varying heights.  At the bottom of the steps the path proceeds for another mile or so along the Lake. You will pass through a grotto formed by the slow erosion of the rock from a wet weather waterfall.  A few hundred yards  past the grotto you will find the entrance to Soldiers Cave, where legend has it that a Confederate soldier Old Soldiers Cave Bransonhid from Union patrols after the battle of Pea Ridge. The trail is much lest traveled past the cave and gets pretty overgrown. You must return the way that you came, but the scenery is so magnificent that you will be glad to retrace your steps. Notice the engraved stones at the bottom of the stone steps.

Trail 2

This trail winds its way through the woods and glades and features some scenic overlooks and a grove of uncommon Ashe Juniper trees.  The 1 3/10 mile trail is fairly level and mulched, and is an easy stroll for  families with children and folks who do not want to navigate the stone steps on Trail 1.  A picnic area can be found halfway down the trail.  Oak and hickory forest makes up most of these Ozark’s woodlands.  During the spring, blooming eastern redbuds and flowering dogwoods are beautiful with their striking contrast to the  forest.  Depending on the time of year, you may see any of a vast array of flowering pants along the trails, as well as many species of animals.


Dewey Short-Tablerock Lakeshore Trail

This popular paved walking trail meanders 2.2 miles along scenic Table Rock Lake from the Dewey Short Visitor Center near Table Rock Dam past the Showboat Branson Belle Landing to the Table Rock State Park Marina. Visitors using the trail in the spring will view dogwood, serviceberry and redbud trees in bloom as well as many wildflower species. During the fall season, visitors are treated to nature’s colorful fall foliage. One of the unique aspects of the trail is that it has long stretches that run close to Table Rock’s shore line, passing through areas of the Table Rock Lake shoreline that were previously nearly inaccessible. The trail will take you by the Showboat Branson Belle where you can appreciate their beautiful park-like landscaping, and it also takes you through Table Rock State Park that offers many additional recreational opportunities. The trail goes through woodlands and over wet weather creeks so expect to see native fauna, squirrels, an occasional deer and birds of all varieties.
The eight-foot-wide paved trail, which meets the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, is available for both hiking and biking and has restrooms available at various points. Coupled with its level pathway and convenient entry and egress points, the Lakeshore Trail allows nearly everyone the opportunity to experience the natural beauty and grandeur of the Ozarks outdoors and Table Rock Lake.

Table Rock Shoreline Trail is open from dawn to dusk to foot traffic, bicycles, skateboards and scooters. The only motorized vehicles permitted on the trail are motorized wheelchairs. The trail can be conveniently accessed from three, trailhead, locations: the Dewey Short Visitor Center, the Showboat Branson Belle (during seasonal operating hours) and the picnic area at Table Rock State Park.


Branson Landing Riverwalk

A popular spot for an interesting walk is the scenic sidewalk and boardwalk along the Taneycomo lakefront at the Branson Landing. The Branson Landing is a unique shopping, dining, and entertainment area that stretches for a mile and a half along the Taneycomo Lakefront. The lakefront trail is level and paved. Along the trail you will pass many walkers, shoppers, trout fisherman, boat docks, ducks and geese. Along the trail you will pass a vibrant town square terracing down from the heart of the Landing to the $7.5 million spectacular water attraction that features the first-ever merging of water, fire, light and music. You will be amazed by the dazzling interplay of water fountains shooting 120-foot geysers with fire cannons blasting, all choreographed to light and music. The water and fire spectacle is a creation of internationally renowned Wet Design, the producers of world-class shows for Downtown Disney marketplace in Orlando, Universal City Walk in California and the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Not to be missed along the north edge of the landing is a small, but very beautiful City Park named North Beach. There you will find an amazing stand of 100 to 150 year old Cottonwood trees that create an oasis of peacefulness amongst the bustle of the Branson Landing. On the south edge of the Landing the trail passes under the old downtown Taneycomo Bridge that has been in place since 1931.The breeze off the cool waters of Lake Taneycomo is always welcome on a hot summer evening


Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery Trail

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery lies in the historic and biologically rich White River Valley in the shadow of the Tablerock Lake Damn. Hiking Trails on the hatchery grounds lead visitors through a variety of natural settings, from the shoreline of Lake Taneycomo to the high rocky bluffs overlooking the famed White River.

A wide diversity of plant life can be found near the hatchery. Along the stream bank, bottomland species like sycamore, burr oak, paw paw and spicebush thrive, as do wildflowers such as bluebells, cardinal flowers and violets. The forested area adjacent to the visitor center is mainly oak and hickory trees, with scattered stands of short-leafed pine and red cedar. Springtime offers a colorful display of flowering trees such as wild plum, serviceberry, redbud and dogwood.

The rocky bluffs overlooking Lake Taneycomo support glade species like the rare Ashe juniper, found only in the Ozarks and one other area of the United States, and the smoke tree. Native prairie grasses and broad-leaved plants like coreopsis, black-eyed susan, ox-eye daisy, Missouri primrose and prickly pear cactus cover the glades.

The hatchery area is also home to a variety of wildlife including deer, turkey, squirrel, raccoon, fox, mink, muskrat and beaver. On the glades, you might even catch a glimpse of the collared lizard or “Mountain Boomer”.

To help protect these wildlife species, habitat improvement projects are ongoing at the hatchery. Wildlife food plots and shelter-producing trees and shrubs have been planted. Brush piles have been established for smaller animals and reptiles. An unused rearing lake is managed to attract waterfowl, and numerous nest boxes have been installed.

Missouri’s state bird, the bluebird, is often seen around the hatchery, as are fish predators like the great blue heron, green heron and belted kingfisher. Winter bird visitors include gulls, osprey and eagles. Turkey vultures and beck vultures have a winter roost near the boat launch. Red-shouldered hawks, pileated woodpeckers and numerous songbirds call this area their home.


Busiek State Forest

Busiek State Forest and Wildlife AreaThe Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Conservation Area covers 2,505 acres of mostly forested, steep and rocky hills about 15 minutes north of Branson. US Hwy 65 bisects the State forest, creating a 10-mile east trail system and an 8-mile west trail system. Each trail system has three color-coded loop trails that range from 2 to 4 miles each, and all are easily accessible from the highway. All trails are designated “mixed use” so they can be used for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Motorized vehicles are prohibited. There’s also an unattended public shooting range along with nine primitive, designated campsites that require a permit from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield (417-895-6880). Busiek State Forest is a fairly typical Missouri forest without any specific main attraction. However, the trails offer pleasant vistas and valley views, with the Woods Fork Creek and the Camp Creek flowing across 2 l/2 miles of the preserve. It’s a good site for backpacking, hunting, fishing, hiking camping, bird watching and just relaxing in an easily accessible forested preserve that receives little traffic.

To get there, take Highway 65  about 14 miles north of Branson or 18 miles south of Springfield. Watch for the well-marked entrance on the East side of the highway.


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