The Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson is home to five trails and one of those is the Glade Exploration Trail which is mostly forest, some flora and fauna, and a few scenic glades. On the north end of the Conservation Area and east on Highway 248, there’s the Henning Homesteader’s Trail which is just 0.25 mile from the intersection of Highway 465. The Glade Exploration Trail stretches only 1.1 mile but if you pass by all the loops and the adjoining Homesteader’s Trail, its total length could reach 6 miles. The beautiful outdoors in the area offer a panoramic view after spring time.
Located in the White River Hills on the west side of Branson, the Glade Exploration Trail at the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area is maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation and free for public use. The conservation area has about 1,543 acres of wooded forests, hillsides, streams, and a series of glades. The glades in the conservation area are sometimes called balds that make up the historical White River Balds Natural Area where vigilantes used to gather after the Civil War. If you have been in the Ozarks before, you probably have heard the name “baldknobbers”, which derived its name from this plot of land.
The five hiking trails that both can be found at The Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area include Dewey Bald, Glade Exploration, Steamside, Shane’s Shortcut, and Homesteaders that course through the heavily-forested areas of the vast land. The Dewey Bald Trail can easily be seen upon reaching the parking lot of the conservation area, just off Highway 76. This is the first trail that hikers can easily see. Stretching only 0.4 mile in length, this paved uphill trail leads to a 40-foot observation tower which offers visitors a picturesque view of the beautiful landscape of Branson.
Next to Dewey Bald Trail is the 1.1 mile Glade Exploration Trail which offers an easy and moderate hike. The Streamside Trail which stretches only 0.4 mile offers an easy and moderate trail to hike. The Shane’s Shortcut Trail which also has a length of 0.4 mile is a big more difficult to hike. This trail is connected to Streamside Trail and Homesteader’s Trail. The longest and the most difficult to hike of all the five trails is the Homesteader’s Trail which stretches 3.4 miles with a hiking time of 3 hours.
The Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area has several features that were immortalized in Harold Bell Wright’s famous book, Shepherd of the Hills which include Boulder Bald, Dewey Bald, The Signal Tree, and Little Pete’s Cave. The conservation area was donated by Paul Henning who is known as the creator of Petticoat Junction television series, Beverly Hillbillies, and Green Acres.
If you want to see the fascinating outdoors around the Ozarks, try a hiking adventure in some of the beautiful hiking trails at the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson.
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