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The Beautiful Waterfalls and Trails of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park – Some of the Best Waterfalls in Missouri

The Beautiful Waterfalls and Trails of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park – Some of the Best Waterfalls in Missouri
Dogwood Canyon Photos 1: Waterfalls in Missouri

Gorgeous Scenery in Southwest Missouri:

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park has 10,000 acres of trails and beautiful scenery.  It’s located in Lampe, Missouri and the 6.5 mile walking trail traverses into Arkansas.  This beautifully landscaped park features some of the best waterfalls in Missouri, which you can view by walking, biking, or taking the tram if you prefer a guided tour.

The walking trail is shared with bikers and trams.  Bikes can be rented or you can bring your own.  There’s a wildlife area that includes bison, elk, and longhorn that’s only accessible to tram riders.  Walking the trails is free with admission to the park (which was $16 per person when I visited), but bike rental, segway rental, and tram all have an additional fee.

Activities Off The Beaten Path:

Horseback riding is also available, with either a one hour ride or a longer 2.5 hour (lunch included) ride.  The horse trails are separate from the walking trail.  The horse trail rides are guided and horses will be provided (you can’t bring your own).

Other park activities include trout fishing and kayak tours.  There’s a restaurant, fully functioning mill, and conservation center located in the main building, and a convenience store where you can rent bikes, grab a quick drink, and rest if you choose to walk or bike the entire 6.5 mile trail.

The Beautiful Waterfalls and Trails of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park – Some of the Best Waterfalls in Missouri
Dogwood Canyon Photos 2: Dogwood Canyon Nature Park main building, with conservation center and restaurant

My husband and I visited Dogwood Canyon Nature Park at the beginning of the season, and in some pics you may see that there’s still snow on the ground.  This park is beautiful in spring and autumn, but even in the off-season when I went, the pictures and experience were still breathtaking.

The walking trail is easy to maneuver and most of the main trail is wheelchair accessible, but some areas are only accessible via steps and unpaved paths, and you do need to give right away to bikers, segways, and trams when they come through.  Some of the tram crossings can be under water, but there are alternate paths (usually bridges) for foot and bike traffic. 

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Overall it’s an easy walk, and there’s some really nice features at the beginning of the trail if you don’t walk to walk the full distance.  There are restrooms and vending machines throughout the trail.

Dogwood Canyon Photos 3: The Tram Crossing at Kid's Cove
Dogwood Canyon Photos 3: The Tram Crossing at Kid's Cove
Dogwood Canyon Photos 4: Stairs to Access the Top of a Glory Hole Waterfall
Dogwood Canyon Photos 4: Stairs to Access the Top of a Glory Hole Waterfall

Kid’s Cove is fairly close to the beginning of the trail, and features beautiful waters and bluffs.

The blue waters of this creek make for some really nice pictures.  Benches and other rest areas close to many of the main features in this park make enjoying the area even easier.

Dogwood Canyon Photos 5: Waterfalls in Missouri
Dogwood Canyon Photos 5: Waterfalls in Missouri

The Waterfalls At

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Great Spirit Rock Shelter:

This waterfall is another park feature that’s not too far along the trail.  Great Spirit Rock is easily accessible for viewing from the ground.  Following an unpaved path, you can walk up into the shelter area which has a bench for sitting and enjoying the waterfall from underneath.  This area likely isn’t wheelchair friendly, but it’s worth the short trip if you’re able.

Waterfalls in Missouri: Great Spirit Rock Shelter in the background
Waterfalls in Missouri: Great Spirit Rock Shelter in the background
Waterfalls in Missouri: Great Spirit Rock Shelter
Waterfalls in Missouri: Great Spirit Rock Shelter
Taking unpaved path to Great Spirit Rock Shelter
Taking unpaved path to Great Spirit Rock Shelter
Waterfalls in Missouri: Inside Great Spirit Rock Shelter
Waterfalls in Missouri: Inside Great Spirit Rock Shelter
Waterfalls in Missouri: Inside Great Spirit Rock Shelter
Waterfalls in Missouri: Inside Great Spirit Rock Shelter

Glory Hole:

This waterfall is easily accessible to view from the ground, but there are stairs and a narrow bridge at the top if you wish to go to the top of this waterfall.  The view from the top is beautiful, so I highly suggest making the very short trip if you’re able!

Waterfalls in Missouri: Glory Hole Waterfall
Waterfalls in Missouri: Glory Hole Waterfall
Dogwood Canyon Photos: From the top of Glory Hole Waterfall
Dogwood Canyon Photos: From the top of Glory Hole Waterfall
Dogwood Canyon Photos: Crossing the Arkansas Border
Dogwood Canyon Photos: Crossing the Arkansas Border

Wish Bowl Falls:

After crossing the Arkansas border, you’ll continue on the trail until it becomes an unpaved path, which takes you up to Wish Bowl Falls.  There’s a seating area and a small vending machine for feeding the fish, so take some change if you’d like to do so.

Dogwood Canyon Photos: Wish Bowl Falls, Waterfalls in Arkansas
Dogwood Canyon Photos: Wish Bowl Falls, Waterfalls in Arkansas
Waterfalls in Arkansas: Wish Bowl Falls
Waterfalls in Arkansas: Wish Bowl Falls

You’ve officially made it to the end of the walking trail!  If you took the tram, you’ll continue on to the wildlife area, which is inaccessible to walkers, segways, and bikers due to safety reasons.  While this is the end of the trail, you’re only halfway there – it’s now time to turn around and make your way back!

I’ve both walked and biked this trail, and thanks to the many benches, restrooms, and vending machines, it’s not a bad trip!  It is long though, so make sure you get there early so you can get back before closing.

This isn’t all of the waterfalls, and I plan to update this post with more pictures when I go back!

Visit the official park website.

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Have you visited Dogwood Canyon Nature Park?  Feel free to leave a comment on your experience!

Valley Water Mill Park – beautiful walking paths in Springfield MO

Valley Water Mill Park - beautiful walking paths in Springfield MO
Valley Water Mill Park - map of beautiful walking paths in Springfield MO

Walking Trails in Valley Water Mill Park Near Springfield MO:

Located on the Greenways next to the Valley Water Mill Equestrian Center, the Valley Water Mill Park is a great little set of walking trails close to Springfield MO. 

There are many places to walk near me, but this is one of my favorites.  There’s ample parking, trails are easy to navigate, and the scenic views are definitely worth a visit!  

Above 1st pic: scenic bluff overlook of the lake from the walking trail.  Above 2nd pic: Valley Water Mill Park trail map.

DIRECTIONS and SPECIFICS:”Located northeast of Springfield on Valley Water Mill Road, the park features a mile and a half hiking trail around the Mill along with other in-Park trails, water-and-stream side learning stations, outdoor classroom pavilion, fishing piers, and The Watershed Center of the Ozarks.” 

“Valley Water Mill Lake is a 13-acre lake managed under a cooperative agreement between the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The lake opened to fishing in March 2012. Several species of sportfish are in the lake including Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Redear Sunfish, and a few Black Crappie. Largemouth Bass and Bluegill provide the best fishing opportunities. As for non-game fish, Common Carp are also present.”- from https://www.parkboard.org/287/Valley-Water-Mill-Park

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Valley Water Mill Park - beautiful walking paths in Springfield MO

The Walking Trails of Elephant Rocks State Park Missouri – One of the Most Popular Missouri Parks!

Hiking Trails and Scenic Views at Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri:

I grew up close to Elephant Rocks State Park, so I’ve loved and enjoyed this place for years!  Located in Bellview Missouri, about 3-4 hours from Springfield, Elephant Rocks State Park (Google maps) is an old granite quarry with lakes, hiking and walking trails, and scenic views!  The walking trails are wheelchair accessible with a braille trail and is an easy hike, but you don’t have to stick to the paths – you’re free to roam the giant rock formations and do some rock climbing as well!

Walking Trails or Rock Climbing:  How About Both!

I always try to stick to the path for the first round each visit, but never make it – the rocks are just too enticing!  I’m sure I’m biased, but this is one the best Missouri parks.

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Below 1st pic: Ascending the main rock formation – a hint of things to come with this crevice. The further you go, the bigger and deeper these crevices get! Below 2nd pic: View from along the walking trail, looking onto some of the flatter sections of rock. Below 3rd pic: At the top, looking into one of the best areas of the park – huge formation split by winding foot trails and large formations to walk and jump across!

More Amazing Missouri Parks and Camping Near Elephant Rocks State Park:

There’s no camping at Elephant Rocks, but there is camping at Johnson’s Shut-ins, another amazing Missouri park that’s about 15-20 miles away from Elephant Rocks – and it also has a plethora of walking trails and beautiful, scenic views (including amazing rock formations you can swim around in the Black River).  If you’re looking for a fun weekend trip, this is definitely one that should be on your list!!

Below 1st pic: interesting rock formations abound at Elephant Rocks State Park!  Below 2nd pic: more of the same granite rock formation, just to the right of the previous pic.

The boulder on the left looks so small 3 pics up, but with this pic you get a hint of it’s sheer size!

Learn more about Elephant Rocks State Park on the Missouri Parks website

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Walking Trails: Lost Hill Park Trail in Springfield MO – Missouri Parks

Lat pic above: one of the beautiful water crossings that goes over the walking trail, but be careful as the paths can be under water and slick!

4705 N. Farm Rd 151, Springfield, MO 65803 (North on Grant past Ebenezer, MO)

Next to the trailhead for the Fulbright Spring Greenway trail, Lost Hill Park offers beautiful rock formations and small natural caves along the South Dry Sac River walking trails.  The biking / walking trails are very easy, mostly paved, and it’s not a long hike.  The trail ends at an old cemetery, and with the walk out and back totals less than 3 miles.

Abandoned Structures Along The Walking Trails of Lost Hill Park

For those that follow my blog, you know I love abandoned structures – so I had to include these pics!  While I love parks for their natural beauty, it’s always fun when they include a bit of history such as an old farm, house, or cemetery along the walking trails. This beautiful park includes all the above, along with small river caves and so much more:

About Fulbright Spring Greenway

Starting at Ritter Springs Park, this trail takes you east under Highway 13, past David C. Murray Trailhead and Lost Hill Park, and ends at Truman Elementary school.  This trail is currently just shy of 7 miles on it’s own, but can be increased by taking the different park trails along the route.

7 Blissful Miles of Horse Trails near Springfield, MO – Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Horse Trails near Springfield, MO - Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Missouri

7 trail miles in Battlefield, Missouri

I’ve rode this trail twice now, and  it was really nice!  There’s an entrance fee, and if you plan to ride often then it’s definitely worth the yearly fee (I believe it was $20 for the weekend or $35 yearly).  There were a few other riders, bikers, and walkers, but there was plenty of room to maneuver and it didn’t feel crowded.  Very easy horse trails, but some gravel – so boots/shoes may be needed for more tender-hooved horses.  Very quick drive from Springfield MO.

From Wilson Creek Battlefield’s website:

A 4.9 mile paved tour road provides a self-guided auto tour. There are eight interpretive stops at significant battle-related locations. There are five walking trails off the tour road, varying in length from 1/4 to 3/4 of a mile. A seven mile trail system for horseback riding and hiking is accessible from the tour road.” – www.nps.gov/wicr

*Note – the pic was taken through the ears of my amazing PSSM horse, Jax – for more info on PSSM and muscle disorders in horses, see my blog PSSM – Jax’s Story.

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Missouri Horse Trails: Compton Hollow Conservation Area in Rogersville MO

Missouri Horse Trails: Compton Hollow Conservation Area in Rogersville MO

Compton Hollow Conservation Area in Rogersville, Missouri

5.5 trail miles in Rogersville, just east of Springfield MO

This is a nice trail ride, with a bit of human foot traffic and the occasional bike traffic.  Overall, most people are happy to yield to horse traffic and are polite.  I did encounter some leashed dogs, but owners were polite and there were no issues (and importantly, no loose or aggressive dogs when I’ve been there).

I’ve rode Compton Hollow Conservation Area many times!  A lot of the trail consists of a gravel and rock base (basically a small gravel road), but some areas are hard-packed dirt and older, ungraveled road-type surface.  Overall a pleasant ride that most barefoot horses could easily do by staying off to the side of gravel areas if needed, but you may need boots/shoes for the more tender-hooved horses. 

Parking is decent and easy to get to.  Trails can get busy, mostly with hikers, but occasionally with a bike or two on weekends or holidays with nice weather.

Compton Hollow Conservation Area allows hunters during hunting season, so be prepared for the trails to be off-limits during those times.

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*Note – the pic above was taken through the ears of my amazing PSSM horse, Jax – for more info on PSSM and muscle disorders in horses, see my website PSSM – Jax’s Story.

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Beautiful Horse Riding Trails near Springfield MO – Hercules Glades Wilderness Area

Horse Riding Trails near Springfield MO - Hercules Glades Wilderness Area Horseback Riding Trails

Hercules Glades Wilderness Area and Horse Riding trails Near Springfield MO  

32 trail miles in Bradleyville, Missouri 

I haven’t rode these horse riding trails, just walked them.  Hercules Glades Wilderness Area was absolutely breath taking, even though we were in a mild drought (this pic should have been the Falls, but the water was too low).  The trails are rocky, and hoof protection will be needed for most horses. 

Trailering in to Hercules Glades Missouri trail system will be difficult as the road gets very narrow and steep, and the parking area isn’t very large (at least not the parking area I visited – I followed Google Maps, and it didn’t seem like a public thoroughfare!).  However, it’s worth the trouble – it’s a beautiful set of horse riding trails! 

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More About This Park and It’s Breath Taking Horse Riding Trails:

Hercules Glades Wilderness Area is 12,413 acres of the most scenic and unique country in the Midwest. Its combination of open grassland, forested knobs, steep rocky hillsides, and narrow drainages offers unusual beauty and a measure of solitude within easy reach of wilderness lovers. 

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Shawnee Bend Bluff Trail Near Truman Lake Missouri – Breathtaking Hiking Trails in Warsaw

Overlooking Truman Lake from the Shawnee Bend Bluff Trail in Warsaw, Missouri

Truman Lake Missouri Hiking Trails and Abandoned Structures

There are a lot of hiking trails, marinas, bike trails, and more in this area of Benton County around Truman Lake in Warsaw Missouri. 

The Shawnee Bend Bluff Trail is for hiking only.  The trail goes through wooded terrain including evergreen forests, then out onto a trail along the bluffs.  The scenic views from this area of the trail are beautiful! 

The trails can get technical and were simple cleared paths and old gravel roads.  It’s a 2.3 mile loop so be prepared for a bit of a trek.  If you want to see the bluffs and structure with less of a walk, go left at the beginning of the trail.  We went right and it was fun to finish the hike with these things closer to the end.

Since I also love abandoned structures this little gem was a great find along the trail:

Parks Around Truman Lake: Abandoned Homestead Along the Shawnee Bend Bluff Trail in Warsaw Missouri

This little homestead wasn’t far from the lake, and whoever had the experience of staying here must have loved it.

We finished this moderately challenging trail in a little over an hour, but we stopped to enjoy the bluffs and the abandoned homestead, so it would likely take less than an hour if you were there for the hiking only.

We went on a day that was dry and the footing was really good, but mud could be an issue in wetter seasons.

Parking was fairly easy but the lot is parking for a marina, so on busy marina days that could change.  The trail wasn’t busy at all and doesn’t seem to see a lot of foot traffic.

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DIRECTIONS:

(Warsaw Missouri): “Take the West Dam Access Road to Shawnee Bend Park. At the top of the boat ramp parking lot is the Shawnee Bend Trail head. Enter around the yellow gate.” – http://www.warsawchamberofcommerce.com/biking—lake-life.html

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