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Branson, Missouri Hiking Trails Guide

Taking the Trail Less Traveled in Branson

5 minute read

Taking the Trail Less Traveled in Branson— A Quick Travel Guide to Branson Hiking 

The great outdoors is calling. The best views and terrains in the Ozarks are waiting for you to be explored. If you’re a solo hiker or going on a family adventure, no matter how skilled or age, Branson has a wide variety of trails to choose from. Get those hiking shoes ready and read more of where the best hiking trails are.

Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area

Located in the heart of Branson and featuring trails of all types for any skill level.  ½ mile trails to 2 ½ mile trails.  Flat land to incredible hand-made, lakeside stairs that descend to a seasonal waterfall and the infamous Soldier Cave.  Also explore the historic Owens homestead and take in the beautiful Lake Taneycomo views.  The Wilderness Hiking area in Branson is located across from the Dick Clark Theater, home of Legends in Concert and the vocal group SIX.

Trails at the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Hiking Area:

0.5mi - Owen Drive Trail - Easy

1.2mi - Taneycomo Trail - Intermediate

0.5mi - Bluff Trail - Intermediate

2.3mi - Ridge Trail - Intermediate

0.4mi - Stone Wall Trail - Easy

Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Trails

The Henning Conservation Area Loop is a 5.7 mile loop that takes hikers through the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area. The trail is accessible from a parking area off of West 76. When you arrive, you'll see a covered wooden platform with scenic views, which marks the start of the hike.

Descending the steps puts you on the Glade Trail and you'll begin to wind your way out into the Conservation Area surrounded by woods. Along this section of the trail, there are cars audible in the distance to your left and occasional views of Branson to your right. After about three quarters of a mile, the path intersects with Streamside Trail; take a left here to move onward.

Shortly after (less than a tenth of a mile), Shane's Shortcut breaks off to the left and you follow that past a series of small waterfalls and cascades. The trail rises and falls until its meets up with Homesteader Trail at around 0.9 miles where markers indicate sites for visitors to learn more about early life in this area. Stay to the left at 1.25 miles and make your way uphill before emerging from the woods at 1.9 miles and passing through an open field that offers views of surrounding hillsides before it peaks again at 2 miles and descends until it comes back full circle at around 2.6 miles where it crosses over a creek before retracing steps back up Shane's Shortcut Trail, Streamside Trail, and Glade Trail until arriving back at the wooden pavilion parking lot where it began--5.7 Miles total!

It should be noted that Conservation Areas are closed from 10 p.m.-4 a.m., with gates opening at 8am and closing between 5:30pm-7:30 pm depending on seasonality (Oct 15th-Mar 15th gates close @5:30pm; Mar 16th-Oct 14th gates close @ 7:30pm). There are no water fountains along these trails so make sure you bring enough for yourself if tackling this adventure!

Table Rock State Park

Welcome to a beautiful playground of fun outdoor activities near Branson. Table Rock State Park (5329 MO 165) runs along the Table Rock Lake shoreline from the State park Marina & the Dewey Short Visitor Center, offering two campgrounds with basic amenities that include electricity, sewage, and water.

Every camper daydreams a woodsy oak & hickory vibe, fishing and water sports by the marina. The trail shows an astonishing video of the Ozarks woodlands and glades. Rare wildflowers spread across the area while other animals like bald eagles, loons, & ospreys roam freely along the trail.

For dry activities, visitors can set up at the picnic tables, take a ride through the mountain bike trail, or play at the playground. And for water activities, the marina can let visitors rent ski boats, waverunners, pontoons, fishing boats, and more. On a next level, scuba diving and parasailing activities are available at Table Rock State Park. The campgrounds also provide showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities for the visitors to use.

Busiek State Forest

From north of Branson on HWY 65 (towards Springfield), a quick 20 minute drive leads you to Busiek State Forest (5 HWY 65 Highlandville, MO). In 1986, the park was built by The Missouri Department of Conservation after purchasing the vast 740 acre land from Dr. Paul Busiek.

Overall, the mountainous area stretches 18 miles of trails with the breathtaking view of the Ozark valley, wildlife, and streams. Families and those who get on horses will love the wide trail for adventure.

The park offers visitors free admission, parking, public restrooms, picnic areas, and campsites. Busiek State Forest is perfect for adventure lovers who want to engage in outdoor activities in the wide forested area such as hiking, bird watching, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, and target shooting

Murder Rock Trail

Five miles from near the Branson Airport at 100 Creek Blvd in Hollister, Murder Rock Trail runs towards the old Springfield-Harrison Road. A quick history of its name, travelers on the trail were routinely ambushed by thieves back during the Civil War.

Steep and small inclines are along the way as the side roads were old mining roads that lead to an old 1880’s mining ghost town, Melva. Visitors can check out the three main mining sites: The Silver Moon Mine, The King Solomon Mine, and The Josie B. Mine.

No camping site is available on this trail, but the site welcomes hikers, mountain bikers, ATVs, and equestrian riders. Trail signs and picnic tables also come along the way to let visitors rest.

Trout Hatchery State Park

Trout Hatchery State Park is one of the best places where families can visit with free admission. On top of the site is the Table Rock Dam that started generating power and cultivating trout in 1959.

Visitors come here to take a stroll with the four scenic trails of green forestry that covers three miles. In the woodsy trail and dry glades through underbrush and trees, the whole family can take a self-guided tour. Hikers are expected to have their feet hit dirt, rocks, and pavement.

With the clear blue Lake Taneycomo, trout fishing is part of the main activities here permitted year-round. The site also has a museum-like visitor center, right next to the parking lot, that showcases exhibits of wildlife and rainbow & brown trout up close.

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