Best Family Friendly Hikes Near Branson

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Endless adventure is possible. You just need to get out and find it!

Ever catch yourself on a vacation or sitting at home asking, “What is there to do near me?” The answer is simple. Get out and start the day with your family by enjoying the fresh air.

It’s free, it’s healthy, and it’ll lead to amazing new memories. It doesn’t matter your skill level or if you’ve hiked before. Begin with a short walk and be amazed by the talks that follow.

The best conversations and bonding experiences come from trying new things together. Find your family’s next adventure with a hike near Branson.


Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

Open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Skill Level: Beginner / Moderate / Difficult

A true gem of the Ozarks, this 1,500+ acre area near Branson was donated by the family that created the Beverly Hillbillies to protect the rich history and beautiful landscape for all to enjoy. With trails ranging from 0.3 to 3.4 miles in length, there is an option for everyone regardless of skill level. Explore through glades, forest, and other natural features or simply remain in the parking lot and enjoy a vast scenic overlook.

The glades, better known by locals as the balds, are said to be where many vigilante groups of the post-Civil War era held meetings. This is where the term “baldknobber” originated and can be found throughout the folklore of the region. Have you ever seen the Baldknobbers family show or ridden the Fire in the Hole rollercoaster at Silver Dollar City? The SDC coaster takes you through numerous scenes depicting an old town, including a camp of Baldknobbers plotting to set the town ablaze and even a main street shootout between the Baldknobbers and sheriff.

Forgetting about the Dewey Bald Trail and Observation Tower is one mistake not to make when visiting Branson. With a trail length of only a half mile and an asphalt-paved path, it’s accessible for all. The tower is 40’ tall and climbable for a view of Branson you won’t see anywhere else.


Roark Creek Waterfall Trail

Open every day from 6:00 a.m. to one hour before sunset

Skill Level: Moderate

Flat, but rocky with tree roots, this 0.6-mile trail includes a river crossing at two different points along the way. It can often be muddy and a little slick, but keep steady and you’ll discover a waterfall at the end. And rain or not, this waterfall almost always has water flowing.

As you walk, enjoy the creek bed and different rock formations too. This stretch of the Roark is normally shallow enough to hop over or even walk through, but be aware that at times of heavy rainfall it can flood.

It’s what many call an “urban hike” because it’s short and simple and located near Highway 76. If you’re new to the whole hiking idea, this is a great one to get you started and only takes about 30 minutes in and out.


White River Valley Trail System

Always Open

Skill Level: Beginner / Moderate / Difficult

Starting at the Dewey Short Visitors Center of Table Rock State Park, the White River Trail System is a network of colored loops ranging in distance, difficulty, and landscape. Find the trail best for your family or use the connectors and tackle them all for one continuous 11.75-mile hike!

RED – This is the most challenging loop. Along the rocky terrain, get a glimpse into the past with a small pond where silt was once caught during construction of the dam. If you’re lucky, you can catch sight of a beaver, waterfowl, or other wildlife.

BLUE – The longest loop, but the best for nature lovers. This trail offers a variety of different landscapes and even runs alongside Lake Taneycomo at different sections.

ORANGE – The shortest loop, but with plenty to see. From small waterfalls along the Baird Mountain Creek to an old and abandoned farmstead, there is something for everyone.

GREEN – This loop has the best view. Hike through glades and forest and after a 1,200 foot gain in elevation, you’ll get an amazing view of the Ozarks.

Be advised that sections of all loops are closed during gun hunting seasons of deer and turkey and that the entire trail system is closed following heavy rains.


Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area

Open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Skill Level: Beginner / Moderate

The Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is located on the heart of Highway 76 with easy accessibility at the intersection of 76 and Fall Creek Road. Escape to nature with your family without ever leaving the city.

This is a great hike with history for visitors and locals alike. Enjoy a scenic overlook of Lake Taneycomo and learn about the different families that once lived on the land while exploring the buildings left of their homestead.

For example, Calvin Gaylor lived and sought refuge in a cave on the land in an attempt to “not help the other side” during the Civil War. This is now referred to as Old Soldier’s Cave and is found along the Taneycomo Trail.

More recently, it was Dr. Lyle Owen and his family who made the land their Ozark paradise. Together, and with the help of people in town, they built 338 steps down to the lake that can still be climbed today on the Bluff Trail.

The history of the area is no secret. Along your hike, you’ll find many displays detailing the lives of the men noted above and gain a better understanding of how life was lived in the Ozarks before modern day.


Busiek State Forest Wildlife Area

Open every day from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Skill Level: Beginner / Moderate / Difficult

When none of the other hikes near Branson are calling your name, take a short 15-mile drive north and discover Busiek State Forest Wildlife Area. In addition to offering camping and a shooting range, the area hosts a well-marked trail system of about 18 miles. Whether up for a short hike or to spend the day, there are many options to choose from.

Pro tip: To get the best experience out of your hiking at Busiek, make sure to discover the sites not necessarily noted on the map. First is Carter Cemetery located on the red trail. Just atop a hill, this cemetery was established in 1891 and has 29 grave markers. Second are the intermittent waterfalls of the yellow trail. These involve a bit of guts to go off path for a short walk, but they’re worth it.


What are you waiting for? Don’t sit around and keep asking, “What is there to do near me?” Make memories with your family with any one of these hikes near Branson.

Get out and start your day with a little adventure!


After you’ve finished with one of the hikes above, it’s time to refuel. Locals Love These Places to Eat in Branson and you will too!

Fritz’s Adventure offers fun-filled activities for every age so the entire family can enjoy an action-packed experience.

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