The Best Places to Enjoy the Colors of Autumn in Branson
The Ozarks region is a great place to see some of the best Branson outdoors especially during autumn season as it’s a time when the fall foliage is at its peak. This part of the country truly offers some of America’s most beautiful natural scenery where leaves of various trees and shrubs turn colors at varying times, where fall colors can last from four to six weeks. Around mid-October, you will see major fall foliage players – oaks, maples, ashes and hickories that give vibrant colors around the Ozark Mountains. Branson features many beautiful spots that allow visitors even more breathtaking sights.
Just a few miles from the famous 76 Strip in Branson, you will find Highway 165 Scenic Overlook which offers many scenic views in its 22-mile loop. This can be traveled by car in about 40 minutes. Throughout the twists and turns of this Scenic Overlook, you can enjoy expansive views from the ridgetops, including a spectacular view of Table Rock Lake and Dam, and the Chateau on the Lake. In the area, you’ll enjoy a great drive to see the fall colors and even take advantage of photo ops on many scenic views.
Ruth and Paul Henning Scenic Overlook is another great place in Branson to enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn. Located on the west of intersection of Highway 76 and the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway north of Branson, Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area is one of best places to see the beauty of autumn leaves. The natural wonders immortalized in Harold Bell Wright’s book “Shepherd of the Hills” can be found in the area. While taking a hike in this scenic area, you can have the opportunity to enjoy the fall colors, and even better it can be enjoyed more at the area’s scenic overlook.
Taking an excursion train tour with the Branson Scenic Railway is also a great way to experience the gorgeous fall foliage on a 40-mile round trip through the Ozark foothills and tunnels. Branson Scenic Railway is one of Branson’s most classic attractions that started as 239 miles of track that were constructed for the White River Railway between 1902 and 1905 with a cost that time of more than $12 million. Today, the railway offers train excursion for passengers and get onboard a collection of passenger cars that traverse the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Taking a great ride with this train is a unique way to enjoy the fall foliage.
Branson outdoor attractions mentioned above to see the beautiful colors of autumn are some of the most popular and well-loved ways to experience the fall foliage, but there are other beautiful spots to see in Branson. These beautiful attractions include Table Rock Lakeshore Trail, Mark Twain National Forest, and Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area.
Table Rock Lakeshore Trail is a 2.2-mile trail which is beautifully located near the Dewey Short Visitor Center and combines vibrant fall foliage with sparkling views of Table Rock Lake. The trail offers an easy, paved pathway suitable for families and accessible for motorized and non-motorized wheelchairs. In this trail, you can spot various wildlife along the route with chances to see deer, red tail foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, bald eagles, osprey, cardinals, ducks, blue birds, and many other species. The trail is just about 15-40 yards from the lakeside and the views of the lake are sporadic depending on the season but during autumn you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view.
On the upper side of the trail, you will see glades and dry woodlands with oak trees that are more than 200 years old. Following the lakeside, the trail winds through Table Rock State Park under a lush tree shade for over 2 miles. You can have a great experience if you start hiking at the Dewey Short Visitor Center and follow the trail down to the State Park Marina. You can have the chance also to see bald eagles in the tall oaks as well as fox and deer on the ground. As the trail is near the lakeside, get the chance to enjoy some outdoor fun activities in the lake such as boating, fishing, and swimming.
Mark Twain National Forest is also a great place to enjoy picturesque drive where you can have a great view of Table Rock Lake. This beautiful attraction in Branson offers a wide range of popular recreational opportunities. With over 750 miles of trails, it makes the forest one of the biggest in Branson. At Mark Twain National Forest, you can find trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and the use of motorized vehicles. The trails in the forest vary in length and difficulty. The forest features more than 350 miles of perennial streams, many of them are suitable for canoes, kayaks, rafts, and inner tubes. The rivers and streams are maintained by the Forest and Missouri Department of Conservation.
There are outfitters in the forest who are permitted to provide services to the public at various locations. The forest has more than 35 campgrounds and picnic areas that are located near a special attraction such as lake, spring, stream, towering bluff or other scenic area. The forest has about 78,000 acres of semi-primitive areas that can only be accessed by hiking, horseback, or mountain bike. These areas provide hikers great opportunities to relax for solitude. Hunting and fishing are permitted in these areas provided you have a valid fishing license from Missouri Department of Conservation.
The Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area in Branson is another beautiful place to see fall foliage up close. The area features a trail that leads to Lake Taneycomo. This Wilderness Area features a 2.3 mile hiking trail which is moderately trafficked loop trail located near Branson. This trail is primarily used for nature trips, hiking, walking, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Dogs can also be brought along to the trail but must be kept on leash. The Wilderness Area is a great place to enjoy nature as it features over 140 acres of wooded and rugged hill country.
The Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area has 2 trails where the first trail starts through an upland forest where nature trees dominate and the fairly level 3/10 mile trail makes for an easy walk to the steps. You will find in the area a set of 315 stonework steps that lead down toward Lake Taneycomo. This trail takes some agility, along with a good pair of hands and comfortable walking shoes. You will find spots that allow passage for only one person. The stonework steps were built from 1937-1938. Building dates and the names of the workers are inscribed in mortar on a step near the bottom where you will also see the 1/5 mile Bluff Trail that will take you by a grotto and waterfall and end at the Old Soldier’s Cave. The total mileage for Trail 1 is 7/10 mile.
Trail 2 will bring you through forest and glades with a 1 3/10 mile loop. This easy trail best suits for families with small children and those who desire an easier stroll. Halfway down the trail, you will find a picnic area with tables.
So, if you want to enjoy the colors of autumn in Branson, make sure to visit some of the best places where leaves of various trees and shrubs turn colors at varying times.