Hiking, Backpacking and Geocaching
The Branson/Lakes Area features more than 200 miles of hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails. This includes the Lakeside Wilderness Hiking Trail, which is a Branson city park that borders an undeveloped portion of Lake Taneycomo and is easily accessible from the Highway 76 "Strip." Another popular destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts are the trails in the 1,574-acre Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area, located on Highway 76 West between Branson and Indian Point. The 2.2-mile Table Rock Lakeshore Trail connects the Dewey Short Visitor Center to the Showboat Branson Belle and is a paved trail accessible to bikes, wheelchairs and skateboards in addition to foot traffic.
USGS quadrangle maps are recommended for any overnight hikes or primitive camping and can be purchased from the Forest Service or the U.S. Geological Survey. It's not uncommon to see horseback riders on Missouri trails. Hikers, backpackers and bikers should remember that saddle and pack stock have the right-of–way on trails.
Please tread lightly and help us preserve the natural beauty of the Branson/Lakes Area.
Mark Twain National Forest
Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest offers visitors a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities around the Branson/Lakes Area with more than 75,000 acres of national forest in Stone and Taney Counties.
West of U.S. Highway 65 is the Cassville District of the forest, which includes the Piney Creek Wilderness, Big Bay Recreation Area, Shell Knob and Onyx Cave. East of U.S. 65 is the Ava District, which includes Arkansas View, Bar K Wrangler, Camp Ridge, Caney, Cobb Ridge, Corbitt Potter, Hercules Glades, Tidwell, Watershed Divide, Willie Lee and Wolf Junction.
Significant hiking and backpacking trails are in the Piney Creek Wilderness and the Hercules Glades Wilderness, which encompass some of the most scenic and unique country in the Midwest.
For Further Information:
Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District
P.O. Box 188, 1103 S Jefferson
Ava, MO 65608
ATVs and Motorcycles
Motorized vehicles are prohibited on most trails in the area, however nearly 80 miles of trail in the Chadwick Motorcycle and ATV Area north of Branson are earmarked for this purpose. ATV, motorcycle and mountain-bike trails wind in and out of deep, forested hollows and down long ridge tops. Forest Service riding permits are required.
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a privately-owned 10,000-acre park located southwest of Branson on Hwy. 86. Dogwood Canyon offers beautiful natural rock bluffs, tree-lined fields, dozens of waterfalls, crystal-clear streams teeming with brown and rainbow trout, log cabin lodging, on-site dining and shopping, as well as activities for everyone from the casual observer to the seasoned adventurer.
You can enjoy miles of paved walking, biking and hiking trails, horseback riding, guided tram and jeep tours, trout fishing and more with paid admission to the park. Guests can see bison, longhorns and elk on the guided tram tours. Dogwood Canyon offers fishing guide service and Orvis fly fishing schools by appointment, and will even arrange a mock city-slicker “cattle drive,” complete with horses, cattle, gear, and chuckwagon-style meals, for groups.
Geocaching, the high-tech scavenger hunt game, has dozens of caches (or treasure locations) in the Branson/Lakes Area. Players can log on to a number of Web sites to get a list of waypoints, or latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, representing cache locations in the Branson/Lakes Area such as geocaching.com.
Soft-adventurers who enjoy combining outdoor recreation with the use of sophisticated global positioning technology (GPS) have made this high-tech game easy to play and popular around the globe. Using a GPS device, players determine their relative location to a desired cache and travel in the appropriate direction until reaching it. Once there, they may find a notable landmark, a container, a logbook or small gifts left by previous players. Protocol requires players to leave something in-kind at each cache they find. To learn more about geocaching in the Branson/Lakes area, call the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber (N 360 39.561 W093 13.522) at (800) 214-3661 or the Indian Point Chamber ( N 360 39.454 W0930 20.206) at (800) 888-3313.