Located in the White River Hills on the west side of Branson, The Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area is maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is free to the public. The plot of land was mainly donated or purchased from the Henning family. Paul Henning is best-known as the writer and producer of the hit TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the 1988 movie "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels".
The area consists of 1,543 acres of mainly wooded forests, hillsides, streams and a series of glades, which are open spaces or clearings in the forest and are sacred to the natives of the region. The glades, also referred to as "balds" make up the historical White River Balds Natural Area, where vigilantes used to meet not long after the Civil War. If you have ever visited the Ozarks, you have probably heard of the term "baldknobbers", which actually received its name from this plot of land.
Five different hiking trails, Dewey Bald, Glade Exploration, Steamside, Shane’s Shortcut and Homesteaders, weave through the heavily-forested land. Upon reaching the parking lot of the conservation area, just off Highway 76, The Dewey Bald Trail is one of the first things hikers see. It is a 0.4 mile, paved, uphill trail that leads to a 40-foot observation tower, offering visitors a panoramic view of Branson and the surrounding area. Nearby is Glade Exploration Trail, a 1.1 mile, moderate hike that also encompasses Steamside Trail, which is 0.4 miles. Shane’s Shortcut, which is 0.4 miles and a bit more difficult, connects Steamside and Homesteader’s Trail. The Homesteader’s Trail, which is 3.4 miles with 3 hours of hiking time, is the longest and one of the more difficult trails. Part of it runs alongside the Roark Creek and can be accessed directly from another parking lot off Sycamore Log Church Road.
For more informaiton visit: Missouri Department of Conservation
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