Hiking Trails in (and around) Branson Missouri – My Picks

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Branson, Missouri is a beautiful destination that offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for all ages. One of the most popular activities in this area is hiking, and I am excited to share some fantastic trails visitors can explore. With a diverse range of trail options, Branson caters to both beginners and experienced hikers alike.

Throughout Branson, there are numerous hiking trails that boast stunning scenery and provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature. Several popular trails can be found at the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area and the Branson RecPlex. These trails pass through diverse landscapes, such as forests, glades, and lakefronts, making for a truly enriching experience.

As I guide you through the incredible world of hiking in Branson, Missouri, I am confident that you will find a trail that suits your interests and skill level. So, lace up your hiking boots and join me on this journey through the picturesque and exhilarating hiking trails that await you in this charming Midwest town.

Best Hiking Trails in Branson

Table Rock Lakeshore Trail

I discovered the Table Rock Lakeshore Trail is an amazing 2.2-mile trail located in Table Rock State Park, offering mainly flat terrain and breathtaking views of the lake. A perfect choice for a relaxing walk or some family time.

Waterfall Trail

The Waterfall Trail in Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is a must-visit for nature lovers. Along the way, I found stunning waterfalls that provide a peaceful ambiance for my hike. It’s an excellent trail to escape the city and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Roark Creek Waterfall Trail

Roark Creek Waterfall Trail is another picturesque pathway featuring a serene creek and lovely cascades. I love this trail for both its scenic beauty and peaceful atmosphere.

Chinquapin Trail

Chinquapin Trail, located in Table Rock State Park, offers a slightly more challenging hike as I traversed through its varying terrains. The trail is approximately 1.4 miles long and took me through the beautiful woodland areas of the park.

Owen Drive Trail

I found the Owen Drive Trail in Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area to be a short, peaceful hike suitable for all ages. The 0.3-mile trail is an excellent option for someone looking for a quick and pleasant walk in nature, surrounded by large trees and lush vegetation.

Ridge Trail

The Ridge Trail in Table Rock State Park provided me with a moderately challenging hike along a 2-mile loop through picturesque wooded areas. This trail is perfect if you’re seeking a bit of an adventure while exploring Branson’s beautiful surroundings.

White River Corridor Trail

I enjoyed the White River Corridor Trail as it offered a unique way to explore Branson’s history and nature. The trail takes you along the old railroad tracks and offers stunning views of the White River and Ozarks’ scenic landscapes.

Glade Exploration Trail

One of my favorites is the Glade Exploration Trail, which boasts a diverse landscape of limestone glades, scenic overlooks, and panoramic views. The trail’s moderate difficulty will please experienced hikers looking for a more challenging and rewarding experience.

Shepherd of The Hills Fish Hatchery Trails

As an avid nature lover, I appreciated the Shepherd of The Hills Fish Hatchery Trails for their wildlife observation opportunities. The area is home to several hiking trails and provides a great chance to learn about the fish hatchery and the local ecosystem.

Homesteader’s Trail

Homesteader’s Trail in Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is a must for history enthusiasts like me. It allowed me to explore the remnants of homesteads from the early 1900s, providing a glimpse into the past while enjoying the natural beauty around.

Fisherman’s Trail

Finally, Fisherman’s Trail at Table Rock State Park is a short, pleasant walk along the shoreline with numerous spots to stop and fish. It’s a great trail for people seeking to combine their love for hiking and fishing in Branson, Missouri.

Outdoor Activities

Fishing in Branson’s Lakes and Rivers

I enjoy outdoor activities, and fishing is one of my favorites, especially in Branson’s numerous lakes and rivers. The area offers a variety of fishing experiences, from riverbanks and lakeside piers to boat fishing and guided fishing trips. Anglers can find a diverse range of fish species like bass, catfish, and trout. Make sure to check the local fishing guidelines and obtain necessary permits before embarking on your fishing adventure.

Mountain Biking

When I am craving an outdoor adventure, mountain biking in Branson provides a thrilling experience. With diverse trails like the White River Valley Trail System, I can choose from easy to challenging routes, traveling through scenic landscapes and rugged terrains. Mountain biking is a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty of Branson while getting some exercise!

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is another outdoor activity I enjoy in Branson. Exploring the area on horseback allows me to connect with nature and experience the majestic Ozarks up close. There are several equestrian centers and guided trail rides available, catering to riders of all skill levels. Whether I opt for a leisurely stroll or an exciting trot, horseback riding offers a unique perspective of Branson’s outdoors.

Segway Tour

When looking for a fun twist on outdoor activities, I highly recommend a Segway tour in Branson. These guided tours allow me to effortlessly explore Branson’s beautiful landscapes and attractions while gliding on a self-balancing electric Segway. Suitable for all ages, this activity combines sightseeing with a dash of adventure, making it an unforgettable experience.

Preparing for A Hike

Proper Clothing

When preparing for a hike in Branson, Missouri, it’s important to consider the appropriate clothing. Comfortable, breathable clothes that wick moisture away from your skin are highly recommended. Dressing in layers is a good idea since the weather can be unpredictable. Lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric is perfect for the base layer, followed by an insulating layer and a waterproof, windproof outer layer, depending on the conditions. A sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots with good ankle support and traction is essential, as well as a hat to protect your head from the sun.

Useful Gear

As I plan my hike, I make sure to pack some essential gear. A reliable daypack is crucial to store all the necessary items. Make sure to carry enough water to stay hydrated during your hike, and high-energy snacks to keep you going. A trusty navigational tool like a map, compass, or even the AllTrails app can come in handy. Other useful items include a first aid kit, multipurpose tool, headlamp or flashlight, and a a lightweight rain cover for your backpack in case of rain.

Safety Tips

In order to have a safe hike, it’s important to be prepared and know the potential hazards along your chosen trail. Carry bug repellant and sunscreen to keep you protected from common outdoor annoyances like mosquitoes and sunburn. Evaluate the elevation gain of the trail you’ll be hiking, and check for any potential hazards like steep stone steps or slippery sections. Be aware of the trails’ surrounding flora and fauna – particularly wildflowers and other plants that could cause allergic reactions or be poisonous to touch. Always let someone know your planned route and estimated time of return, and carry a fully charged cell phone for emergencies.

When To Go

Choosing the right time to go hiking in Branson depends on your preferences and the trail conditions. Many trails in the area offer beautiful views of wildflowers, especially during spring and early summer. The temperatures in these seasons are generally comfortable and mild, making for a more enjoyable hike. However, trails with significant elevation gain might be more challenging in hotter months. You can find detailed information about each trail, including the best time to hike, on AllTrails.

Visitor Information

Parking Details

In Branson, Missouri, there are several parking options available for hikers. Most trailheads have designated parking lots where I can safely leave my car while exploring the trails. For instance, at the Lakeshore Trail and Busiek State Forest, there are ample parking spaces for visitors.

Pets on Trails

As a pet lover, I appreciate that many of the hiking trails in Branson allow pets on a leash. However, it’s important to follow the Missouri Department of Conservation guidelines for each specific trail, as they may vary regarding pets. I always make sure to clean up after my pets to preserve the natural beauty of the area.


While some trails may be more accessible than others, there are options for all skill levels and abilities. For example, the Lakeshore Trail is a widely paved pathway suitable for those requiring a more accessible trail. Before starting a hike, I make sure to research the trail’s difficulty level and accessibility to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Wildlife Areas

Being a nature lover, I enjoy exploring the diverse wildlife areas found throughout Branson’s hiking trails. The White River Valley Trail and Busiek State Forest are just a few examples of trails that offer the opportunity to observe wildlife in their natural habitat. When hiking, I always remember to respect the environment and not disturb the animals.

Attractions Nearby

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery

I’d recommend the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery if you’re interested in learning more about the Ozarks’ fish populations. This hatchery is a wonderful place to observe trout in various stages of development and learn about the measures being taken to preserve their population. In addition, there are several nature trails that provide an excellent opportunity for birdwatching and exploring the beautiful surrounding areas.

Showboat Branson Belle

Another attraction you might want to explore nearby is the Showboat Branson Belle. This fascinating showboat takes guests on a picturesque tour of the Ozarks’ lakes while presenting spectacular live shows. The onboard entertainment consists of live music, dancing, and comedy for an enjoyable experience. I’d highly recommend this as a unique way to combine sightseeing with entertainment in the Branson area.

Dewey Short Visitor Center

Lastly, don’t forget to visit the Dewey Short Visitor Center, located near Table Rock Dam. This visitor center offers insightful displays on the construction of the dam, local ecology, and the rich heritage of the Ozarks. With interactive exhibits, it’s perfect for both adults and kids to learn more about the region’s history and enjoy the stunning views of Table Rock Lake.

Guidelines for Conservation

Preserving the Natural Beauty

I want to ensure that the beautiful landscapes of Branson, Missouri, are preserved for future generations of hikers. One way to achieve this is by adhering to the principle of “Leave No Trace” when exploring the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area and other trails. I recommend:

  • Staying on designated trails, such as the Glade Trail, to minimize erosion and damage to plants.
  • Picking up and carrying out any trash encountered along the journey.
  • Avoiding removal or alteration of any natural elements, like picking flowers or moving rocks.
  • Respecting water sources by not swimming or bathing in waterfalls or streams.

Wildlife Protection

Additionally, wildlife protection plays a crucial part in conserving Branson’s hiking areas. Forests, glades, and waterfalls are natural habitats for various animal species. To minimize our impact on these inhabitants, I advise the following:

  • Observing wildlife from a safe distance, prohibiting close interactions and feeding.
  • Maintaining control of pets and keeping them on a leash while on the trail.
  • Respecting the natural quiet of the environment by avoiding loud music or excessive noise that could disturb wildlife.
  • Abiding by any area-specific guidelines, as certain conservation areas might have rules for seasonal or specific wildlife protections.

By adhering to these guidelines, I am confident in the preservation and enjoyment of Branson’s breathtaking hiking trails, forests, and glades for generations to come.