Whether you’re a new hiker, or just looking for new places to hike, you’ll find that the Ozarks have plenty to offer. These are also called the Ozark Mountains, Ozark Highlands, or Ozark Plateau, and are located in extreme southeastern corner of Kansas, as well as the states of Missouri and Oklahoma.
Buffalo National River
Located in the Ozarks, the Buffalo National River is a hiking destination with plenty of outdoor activity opportunities. A number of trails are found in the park and nearby, including the Buffalo River Trail and the Ozark Highlands Trail.
The Buffalo River is also home to several waterfalls, including the Buffalo River Falls, the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and Appalachians. For those looking for a less intense hike, check out the Indian Rockhouse Trail, which is a three-mile loop that winds through a bluff shelter once inhabited by Indians.
The Buffalo National River is not only a hiking destination, but also offers several outdoor activities, including fishing and canoeing. There are several launch points in the park and many outfitters to help you plan your excursion.
Lake of the Ozarks State Park
Whether you’re looking for a quick walk or a long hike, Lake of the Ozarks State Park has trails to accommodate your needs. There are a dozen different trails to choose from, with routes ranging from mild to rugged. The trails are marked with directional arrows and colored markers, if the route is unclear.
The Coakley Hollow Trail is just under one mile long and offers stunning views of the Ozarks. This trail is situated in the northwestern Salem Plateau, where ancient streams and springs flow through the area.
The Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and swimming. The park also offers year-round lodging and boat rentals.
Lost Valley Hiking Trail
Located in the Buffalo National River, Lost Valley Hiking Trail is a small, but fun hiking trail. It’s a short, but relatively easy hike that features waterfalls, caves, and Ozark mountain streams.
The trail starts off on a gravel track that’s not too difficult to navigate. A few years back, Lost Valley Trail was upgraded, making it easier to access. The trail is mostly gravel, but there are some smaller rocks and tree roots. The trail is also marked with a National Park Service sign.
The trail is a little more than a mile long, with the longest portion of the trail being the dripping, cob cave. The cave is a cathedral-sized bluff shelter right next to the waterfall.
Rocky Falls Trail
Located along Route H near Eminence, Missouri, Rocky Falls is a classic Ozark Mountain “shut-in” whose cascading waters are worthy of a visit. In addition to the falls themselves, this stop also includes a picnic area, a bathhouse, and a few fire grills. This is a great place to spend a summer day with your family.
The trail to the falls itself is relatively short. The rhyolite porphyry rock that formed this waterfall has survived for more than 1.5 billion years. The water that falls from the rhyolite cliffs is quite impressive, with a vertical drop of at least forty feet. The water flows through boulders before emptying into the Current River.
Yellow Rock Trail
Located near Devil’s Den State Park, the Yellow Rock Trail is a fun, short, and easy hike. It is a three mile loop that features interesting rock formations. It offers spectacular views of the Ozarks.
The Yellow Rock Trail is one of the most popular trails in Devil’s Den State Park. It was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. These guys used native materials to build structures and trails.
The trail has significant climbing, as well as interesting rock formations. The trail has a small cave entrance that is great for kids to explore. There is also a small waterfall along the trail.
Susie Nichols Cabin Trail
Located within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Susie Nichols Cabin is an historic site. This cabin was constructed around 1910 by John and Susie Nichols, who lived here until they died. The cabin was never electrified and was a reflection of the Scotch-Irish culture of the interior Ozarks.
The Susie Nichols Cabin Trail is a 0.6 mile round trip. The trail is accessible by wading when the river is low. The cabin is near the headwaters of the Current River. It is a popular spot for horseback riders. The trail also offers an excellent view of the Ozarks. The Ozark Plateau is a region of limestone caves and free-flowing springs. The ridges of the surrounding hills have many rock outcroppings.