Something Natural in Branson

The woods and natural limestone glades around Branson provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the strip. Get a bit of exercise and reset your state of mind with a choice of several natural hikes, ideal for all ages and skill levels.

Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

Branson point and shoot (12)This high ground area is on the west side of Branson and less than a mile from Cabins at Green Mountain. Most of it was donated by Ruth and Paul Henning- you may recognize Paul as the creator of the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction television series.

The forest, woodland, and glade habitat that bears his name includes a .4 mile out and back paved forest trail to the top of Dewey Bald. Hikers can then climb an observation tower to see an unobstructed view of Branson. The grade of this trail is moderate and appropriate for young children or those in a wheelchair.

From the west side of Branson, take Highway 76 west 0.75 mile from the Highway 376/Highway 76 intersection. For more information, call 417-895-6880.

Lakeside Forest Wilderness area

Step into the woods right off the strip at the Lakeside Forest Wilderness area, 140 acres of wooded and rugged hill country with a quiet, shaded picnic area and 4.4 miles of trails showcasing the forests and unique rock formations of the area.Branson point and shoot (23)

We recommend the Bluff Trail- you’ll traverse 338 hand laid stone steps leading down toward Lake Taneycomo. This is a more advanced hike that will challenge you with its elevation changes and ruggedness. Near the bottom is the Grotto, a large rock cutout that forms a nice waterfall when it rains. Down the trail, you’ll find two caves, one of which is about 35 feet by 20 feet, tall enough to stand up in, and was used as a soldier’s hideout during the Civil War.

Lakeside Forest is located just south of Highway 76 and Fall Creek Road, near Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. For more information, call 417-335-2368.

Table Rock Lake- boating, fishing and more

Photo courtesy of the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo courtesy of the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau.

You don’t even need a boat to enjoy the 800 miles of shoreline at Table Rock Lake. You just need a sunny summer day and your swimsuit. Visit Moonshine Beach, a large, sandy stretch that will make for perfect summer lake memories- it’s got volleyball nets, a swimming area, a diving board, and picnic areas.

For the more adventurous, the lake offers boat rentals of ski boats, jet skis, pontoons, paddle boats, stand up paddle boards, and everything in between. Watersport enthusiasts will revel in the crystal clear water and tree lined shores, and anglers will rejoice in the many species of fish available to catch, lurking in the diverse underwater structure. Cold waters released from Table Rock Dam creates one of the best lake trout fishing lakes in the country, and the area is also known for its excellent bass fishing.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. In his spare time he enjoys photography, astronomy, hiking, hanging out with his family and dog, and of course, traveling! His favorite RTX spots to visit are Orange Beach, Alabama, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, but he's visiting new places all the time. .

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