Branson Hiking Trails offer some of the most beautiful scenery, while also getting the blood pumping. You won't believe how many places there are to experience nature and explore. We have put together a guide to help you find your way around the outdoors during your visit to Ozark Mountain Country.
Table Rock State Park
Table Rock State Park (5329 MO 165) is a beautiful playground of outdoor activities near Branson. On the Table Rock Lake shoreline lies two campgrounds, offering basic, electric, and sewer/electric/water campsites (Go for the family campsite for a little extra space). This park is a camper’s dream: a woodsy oak and hickory setting, fishing and water sports abound, with a marina nearby for restocking supplies. The walking trails display a good example of Ozarks woodlands and glades. Some of the wildflowers are very rare, so visitors are asked not to touch them. Table Rock Lakeshore Trail runs along the Table Rock Lake shore line from the State Park Marina and the Dewey Short Visitor Center. It’s popular with walkers and wheelchairs because of its paved road. In the wintertime, onlookers may see a bald eagle, loon, or osprey on the trail. Table Rock Lakeshore Trail shares the road with Chinquapin Trail, 1.5 miles long, another popular walk in Table Rock State Park. The marina rents water equipment, like ski boats, WaveRunners, pontoons, fishing boats, etc. There’s even a boating ramp in the lake for big air jumps. Scuba diving and para-sailing both are fun activities found at Table Rock State Park. The campgrounds have showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities, and can be reserved ahead of time. Also available are a mountain bike trail, picnic tables, and playground equipment. Open 6am-10pm.
Busiek State Forest
Just a short 20 minute drive north of Branson on HWY 65 (toward Springfield) lies Busiek State Forest, (5 HWY 65 Highlandville, MO). Open 4am-10pm, this park offers free admission and parking. The Missouri Department of Conservation built the park in 1986 after purchasing over 740 acres of land from Dr. Paul Busiek. Visitors can engage in the forested area’s wide variety of activities including hiking, bird watching, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, and target shooting. This outdoor-lover’s paradise provides public restrooms, picnic areas and campsites as well. Eighteen miles of trails cover the mountainous terrain overall, with views of the Ozark valleys, rare wildlife, and lush streams. The trails are wide, making it easy for families and horses to get by.
Murder Rock Trail
Murder Rock trail got its name when Civil War-era travelling pioneers were routinely ambushed by a gang of robbers on this stretch. Beginning near the Branson Airport at 100 Creek Blvd in Hollister, Murder Rock Trail is five miles long and follows the old Springfield-Harrison Road. Trail signs and picnic tables comfort visitors along the trail, which eventually ends on JJ HWY. Along the way be prepared to see the remains of Melva, an old 1880’s mining ghost town and its three landmarks: The Silver Moon Mine, The King Solomon Mine, and The Josie B. Mine. Be prepared for small inclines along the way, and the side roads (old mining roads) are much steeper. Murder Rock Trail welcomes hikers, mountain bikers, ATVs, and equestrian riders, but no camping site.
Trout Hatchery State Park
Located at the bottom of the Table Rock Dam off HWY 165, the Trout Hatchery is educational and fun, yet no cost to the whole family. It has scenic trails, trout fishing, a museum-like visitor center, and a breath-taking view of Table Rock Dam, which began generating power and raising over a million trout a year in 1959. With four trails of green forestry, dry glades, and clear blue Lake Taneycomo the trail is a woodsy stroll through underbrush and trees. The trail roads cover three miles, with your feet hitting dirt, rocks, and pavement. The visitor center next to the parking lot (open 9-6) has wildlife exhibits and displays of Rainbow and Brown trout up close. You could take a self-guided tour with the whole family, then go fishing along several spots on clear blue Lake Taneycomo, where trout fishing is permitted year-round.