The Ozarks have always been a hot destination for lovers of the outdoors. With the unique, rugged terrain, beautiful views and abundant wildlife, the Ozarks have something here for every backwoodsman-at-heart. A popular Ozarks recreational activity has always been hiking, and more recently, mountain biking, especially in the Southwest Missouri area. Folks love to meander through the woods on foot or bike, splashing in the creeks, admiring flowers and enjoying the clean, pure, forest air. If you are in search of a great trail to hike (or mountain bike too!) near the Branson area, check out the new White River Valley Trail System, a 10.25 mile roundtrip trail that will allow you to hike ‘n’ bike to your heart’s content.
Dedicated in 2011, the White River Valley Trail has quickly become a favorite with the hiking and biking crowds, earning a national award from the Coalition for Recreational Trails the same year it was opened. It is the first trail in the area to be designated for mountain biking, though hikers are more than welcome! (Horse traffic and ATVs, however, are not.) The opening of theWhite River Valley Trail was highly anticipated by the Branson/Tri-Lakes and surrounding area community – this project received support from local Boy Scout troops, students from Hollister and College of the Ozarks, local governments, and numerous volunteers. The project was funded partially by trail grants and was made possible by mutual cooperation between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Parts of the trail are located within Table Rock State Park and also on U.S Army Corps of Engineers land.
The trailhead for this new trail is located just off of Highway 165, south of the entrance to the Showboat Branson Belle and just north of the entry to Table Rock State Park. The trailhead area features vehicle parking and public restrooms for visitor convenience. The varied terrain trail is divided into four major loops specified by color, with many connector trails located throughout the area as well, all combining to create a total of 10.25 miles of hiking and biking paradise. The Orange Loop is the shortest of all the trails, measuring in at .6 miles. Next up is the Green Loop, totaling 1.25 miles. The Red Loop, which begins and ends at the trailhead and parking area, stretches 2.5 miles, while the Blue Loop (the longest trek of the four trail loops) measures 3 miles. Certain trails begin off of the connector loops, so a map or GPS comes in very handy at helping recreation seekers stay on track as to which trails they wish to explore.
The White River Valley Trail provides both visiting hikers/mountain bikers and local outdoor aficionados with many great opportunities to explore the beautiful area. Certain locations along the trail offer a peek at old homestead ruins. Other areas provide hikers with a look at relics left over from a bygone era when the Table Rock Dam was under construction in the 1950s. The numerous species of wildlife that roam this area can also be spotted along the trail, as well as much of the Ozarks unique flora and fauna – visitors to the trail may want to come armed with bird books, cameras, field guides and binoculars!
Mountain bikers especially love this area for its great surface – hard pack and loose rock with a few natural obstacles makes for a great bike run. The trail does provide its challenges, such as creek crossings, switchbacks and a few small drop-offs, but on the whole it is a superb area to ride and hike. Visitors to the trail appreciate the trail maintenance and the well-marked routes, as well as the awesome Ozarks scenic views that are so prevalent in this area!
If you’re up for a day on the trail, whether you are a fast paced mountain biker or more of a naturalist hiker, the White River Valley Trail is sure to provide challenges and triumphs that you’ll enjoy.
About The Author: David Bryce is travel writerwho enjoys writing about travel and family vacations. He currently blogs for Thousand Hills Resort in Branson, MO.