We all know the key to hiking is finding the perfect walking stick!
And, of course, bringing along a canteen of water, a fanny pack full of snacks, and a handkerchief in case you work up a sweat.
While the Lake of the Ozarks itself is the star of the show in the summer, the hiking trails at Ozarks State Park provide a breathtaking walk through some of the most gorgeous, colorful foliage in all the nation.
If you’re coming to stay at one of our properties this fall, here are three hiking trails we recommend:
Lake Trail – 1.5 miles long – VIEW MAP
Part of this trail is densely shaded and covered in ferns, while the rest is open and rocky. Between the two extremes, the trail will take you along the shoreline of the Lake of the Ozarks. In addition to the natural history, evidence of the past and present cultural history can also be seen. Lake Trail is a study in what this part of Missouri has become.
Rocky Top Trail – 2 miles long – VIEW MAP
This popular trail climbs to one of the largest glades in the park. Historically influenced by periodic fires, these dolomite glades are becoming rarer as cedars encroach and choke out the native vegetation. Rocky Top Glade is managed by periodic fires to help maintain its natural integrity. Once you have hiked through the glade, native Ozark woodlands with its composition of white oaks, bluestem and asters become the norm. Crossing through the ravine, you will come to a rich north facing slope that gives way to dolomite cliff overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks.
This trail is actually two loops joined together for a total of about two miles. After hiking for approximately half a mile, you will come to an intersection. At this point you can finish the first loop by hiking back along the lakeshore to the parking lot and trailhead for a total hike of about one mile. If you would like a longer hike, cross the small ravine up to the overlook on the lake and loop back. This will be an additional 1.5 miles of hiking.
Bluestem Knoll Trail – 0.80 miles long – VIEW MAP
Settlers arriving in Missouri more than two centuries ago encountered a landscape much different than what is found in the Ozarks today. Widely spaced trees, tall native grasses and large herbivores were characteristic of the natural communities found in central Missouri. Through active management practices such as prescribed burning, removal of exotic species and opening of the canopy, these native landscapes are being restored. Bluestem Knoll Trail goes through one of these areas actively managed by the park.
NOTE: Lake of the Ozarks is privately owned and the two Missouri State Parks are unaffected by the Federal Shutdown.