There are plenty of hiking trails in the Branson area, and they all offer their own experience. From easy 30-minute hikes to all day adventures, there are parks with trails right in Branson for tourists who just want some time outside to the far away trails for locals looking for something new.
In the heart of Branson
Ruth & Paul Henning
Located just north of the intersection of West 76 Country Boulevard and Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area is easy to access for anyone staying in Branson. Located on the west side of town, the conservation area offers several trails of varying lengths.
Two 0.4-mile trails — one paved, one not — offer unique views on each. The unpaved trail is a loop on a longer 1.1-mile trail which has an overlook deck and takes about an hour to complete. The longest trail, a 3.4-mile loop, takes hikers past former homesteads along with the other natural sites.
Waterfall Trail is an oasis located in the middle of the constantly moving Branson tourism district. Branson offers many paved walking paths, but Waterfall Trail is one that is unpaved. A 2/3-mile shorter hike, the trail is perfect for a little bit of outdoor time before packing in a day full of other activities.
Table Rock State Park
Still within minutes of downtown, Table Rock State Park offers more than one trail option for those looking for a closer-to-nature experience. Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the park’s experience just after sunrise is a great place to explore and reflect.
The trails travel through the woods, around the lake and up plenty of hills for a relaxing hike in the Ozarks. The benefit of its location allows anyone to hike in the morning and then visit other attractions during the day.
Just a day trip
Busiek State Forest
Just north of Branson in Christian County sits the state forest with numerous activities to offer. Busiek is the closest of the three day-trip parks, sitting just 15 miles from Branson, but the long trails offer full-day entertainment and environmental appreciation. Six trails add up to more than 18 miles in hiking — three head west and three east. All vary in difficulty.
The trails on the east side of the park are all different levels. The Red Trail is the only easy terrain trail in the park, going about 3.6 miles. The Yellow Trail has moderately difficult terrain and lasts 4.33 miles. The Blue Trail is the shortest difficult terrain trail in the park, looping 2.1 miles. (Note: All trails start at the same point and veer off. All trails are loops.)
To the west, the three trails are all difficult terrain, but they vary in length. The Purple Trail is 3.6 miles, the White Trail is 4.43 miles, and the Orange Trail is 5.71 miles. All six trails are mixed use and cleared for hiking, biking, mountain biking and equestrian use.
Busiek does offer camping as well with a permit. Find out more at mdc.mo.gov. There are other activities offered at the forest throughout the year as well. It has an unsupervised shooting range, and deer hunting and trapping are options during select times of the year.
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
The park itself offers a plethora of activities for any family looking to experience the outdoors at any level. Located about 30 minutes from Branson, tram tours, horseback riding, fishing and more are available for extra purchase once the park admission of $20.50 has been paid. Child admission is $14.25.
On-foot walks through the park are free after admission. The park offers 6.5 miles of paved paths and 9 more miles of hiking trails. Natural water features and wildlife highlight both forms of trails. Biking is available on the trails for $15. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit dogwoodcanyon.org.
Roaring River State Park
The farthest away from Branson, Roaring River offers a look into the wildlife of all the Ozarks and not just Branson. The park offers more than just a few hiking trails — it’s one of three Missouri state parks stocked with rainbow trout, offering fishermen the chance to catch their own fish and keep them with a permit.
The seven hiking trails are a draw for locals and tourists alike, though. Varying from 0.2 to 4.4 miles, the seven trails each offer a unique view of the park. Eagle’s Nest Trail takes hikers up to one of the highest points in the park; Devil’s Kitchen Trail has legend attached to it and its use during Civil War times; Fire Tower Trail offers the most inclusive view at 4.4 miles.
Campgrounds, cabins, and even an inn offer visitors the chance to stay overnight and catch a state park sunset and sunrise.
Away to Arkansas
Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area
The Hobbs State Park in Rogers, Arkansas, offers more than 54 miles of trails for a variety of uses. There are short paved trails along with long, strenuous ones in the park. The Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail is 24 total miles in length but has five loops that go off the trail.
Bull Shoals-White River State Park
Bull Shoals Lake is a frequented spot by Branson locals and guests. The state park, though, is farther south located at the southeastern tip of the lake. With six trails all located at the junction of Bull Shoals Lake and White River, the area gives visitors a chance to see plenty of Arkansas’ beauty.
Withrow Springs State Park
In northwest Arkansas sits Withrow Springs, a smaller state park but just as beautiful as any other. Withrow Springs offers three trails from ¾ miles to 2.5 miles. All three can connect for a full hike of the park, and each takes hikers on a journey through the woods and water of Huntsville, Arkansas.
For more information on all of Arkansas’ parks, visit www.arkansasstateparks.com.
Helpful Hiking Hacks
1. Check the weather before hiking any trail. Be sure to prepare accordingly with clothing, and make sure trails near water are open and safe to hiking in unpleasant weather.
2. Pack enough water for however many people are going. A quart per person is a good place to start.
3. Wear proper attire for the hike. A paved trail hike or easy terrain may only need tennis shoes, whereas more difficult trails will require proper hiking shoes.
4. Have emergency equipment available and in a pack. A cell phone can only do so much, especially when service is spotty, so make sure flashlights, IDs, First Aid kits, compasses and more are easy to access.