Tail Report Week 10: There’s nothing funny about the Ha Ha Tonka Trail

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With some of the states most challenging trails, hiking Missouri’s Ha Ha Tonka State Park will make you work, but the reward is well worth it. 

 

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The Ha Ha Tonka State Park is located in Camdenton, Missouri on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks. The lake is surrounded by massive Limestone Karst bluffs. The trail meanders through these bluffs showcasing sinkholes, caves, Natural bridges and a spooky abandoned castle that looks like it leaped from Wuthering Heights. 

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There are 13 different trails at Ha Ha Tonka all but one are less than two miles (one way) but every one of them is rated at least moderate with six being rated rugged/challenging. 10 of the 13 trails have a grade increase of 10% or better.

One of the trails takes you to a natural bridge. The bridge is tall enough for you to stand underneath it.

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When the castle (pictures will follow shortly) was being constructed the natural bridge the supply vehicles would dry under the bridge.
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The bridge became a makeshift waterfall during a summer outburst.
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The trails cut right through the cliffs
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Some of the passages get a bit narrow
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Another trail takes you to “The balanced Rocks” rightly named. Don’t sneeze around here, you never know.
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One of the steepest trails goes all the way down the bluff to the shore of the where the water from the caves and sinkholes enter into the lake of the Ozarks. These caves are closed to hikers as the cavefish and bats that live in there are endangered.
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A heron fishes at the area where the cave water and the lake meet.

Many of the trails are boardwalks as the gravel and rocks are too loose for hiking. Other trails have railroad ties and gravel. Only a couple trails are dirt paths.

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This area is called “The Devil’s Kitchen”  It is a natural ridge. there are also several small caverns nearby. This trail is particularly rugged and steep.
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The Ha Ha Tonka arm of the lake of the Ozarks

                                                                    The Castle

One of the most beautiful trails leads to the Stanley Castle. This mansion was built in the 20’s and 30’s and was later abandoned. All that remains are the eerie stone structures. The building was designed based on the manor Houses of England and Ireland and really looks like something you would see on the Moors as opposed to central Missouri.

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The Stanley’s also built a water tower and several cottages that also are mostly still standing.

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The water tower

Pros:  One of the most beautiful and scenically diverse of all the trails in the midwest. The Castle alone makes the three-hour drive from Kansas City worthwhile. The entire Lake of the Ozarks area is stunning and there are many more trails close by with 13 trails you could visit many times and still not hike it all.

Cons: One of the most physically challenging trails outside of the mountains. The trails would be very dangerous in the wintertime. Three hundred steps feel like a million when you are going up them. 

6 Replies to “Tail Report Week 10: There’s nothing funny about the Ha Ha Tonka Trail”

      1. I definitely think so. I am looking forward to revisiting the castle this winter sometime when we have snow, I bet it will look really good that way.

        Liked by 1 person

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