The Henning Conservation Area Loop combines the Streamside Trail
, Glade Trail
, Homesteaders Trail, and Shane's Shortcut Trail
to create a nice, 5.7 mile loop that showcases the beauty fo the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area. The hike starts at the parking area off of West 76 (Country Boulevard). In the parking lot, there is a covered wooden platform that offers scenic views, and this is where the hike starts.
Descending the steps puts you on the Glade Trail
and you'll begin to wind your way out into the Conservation Area. While the road is off to your left for a while, views of Branson off to the right come in and out of view as you hike through a wooded area. The trail is mainly dirt and rock through this area, which is easy hiking unless its been raining, when water runs down the trail and the rocks are slippery. After roughly three quarters of a mile, the Glade Trail
meets up with the Streamside Trail
. Take the left to follow the Streamside Trail
as it winds its way farther downhill.
At roughly 0.9 miles, Shane's Shortcut breaks off to the left and you follow that past a series of small waterfalls and cascades. The trail rises and falls until it comes to the intersection with the Homesteader Trail
. The trail opens up some as you make your way uphill. On this trail, there are markers indicating sites for you to visit to learn more about what early life in the area was like. The Homesteader trail creates a loop that is almost 4.0 miles long.
Changing from wide road to narrow singletrack, the trail winds through the preserve offering you the opportunity to explore the area. Once you have completed the Homesteader Trail
Loop and cross the creek, take a left and retrace your steps back along Shane's Shortcut Trail
. Once you are back at the intersection with the Streamside Trail
, go left to make your way to the Glade Trail
. Stay to the left at the Glade Trail
junction, and you'll end up back at the parking area having completed 6.0 miles.
Conservation Areas are closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Gates will be opened at 8 a.m. Gates will be closed at 5:30 p.m. from Oct. 15 to Mar. 15 and at 7:30 p.m. from Mar. 16 to Oct. 14.
There are no water fountains along the trail but there are plenty of streams along the way, so if you have a filter, you'll be fine.
The trail starts at the parking area off of West 76 at a wooden pavilion that provides a scenic outlook toward Branson. A series of steps drop down to the left and the Glade Trail
begins. Follow the singletrack trail of rock and dirt through a wooded area. While you'll hear cars for a short time, the trail breaks off to the right and moves deeper into the conservation area. As you travel along the Glade Trail
, any views you'll enjoy are off to the right hand side of the trail as Branson lays off in the distance.
The trail descends for roughly for three quarters of a mile until the trail intersects with the Streamside Trail
. Take a left and follow the trail for roughly 0.2 miles. Views of the surrounding hills begin to open up in this part of trail as it approaches Shane's Shortcut Trail
. After you turn onto Shane's Shortcut Trail
, you'll have to rock hop across a creek, depending on how much rain there has been this may be more difficult so make sure to wear appropriate footwear.
Shortly after (less than a tenth of a mile), a series of waterfalls and cascades are off to the right hand side of the trail. Take a few minutes to enjoy the views and the sound of water descending. Continue on Shane's Shortcut Trail
as it rises and falls until it meets up with the Homesteader Trail
. On the Homesteader Trail
, there are markers that indicate points of interest that provide insight into early life in the area. Stay to the left at roughly 1.25 miles and the trail will start to climb up the hillside. After making its way uphill, you emerge from the woods and pass through a small field.
The trail peaks around 1.9 miles and thens starts to descend through the woods. You'll pass through two areas where power lines pass through the area. You may see deer in this area in the mornings or evenings as they feed. After the trail re-enters the wood, it continues to descend until approaches Sycamore Church Road and Roark Creek (there is a parking area here too), at around 3.0 miles.
The trail levels out as you follow Roark Creek for almost half a mile. There are a couple of feeder creeks in this area that you have to cross via rock hop, which could be tricky if it has been raining a lot. The trail widens as it follows an old road that is a mix of dirt and gravel. There are a couple of side trails that lead to exhibits, so make sure to follow signs and make sure you stay on the main trail. At roughly 4.75 miles, the Homesteader Trail
narrows as it descends to the creek and the junction with Shane's Shortcut Trail
. Cross the creek (another rock hop) and take a left and follow Shane's Shortcut back to the Streamside Trail
When you get back to the Streamside Trail
, take a left and continue to follow the Streamside trail through the woods as it makes its way toward the Glade Trail
. At the junction with the Glade Trail
, you emerge from the woods and enter a field. Take another left, as this is a giant loop, and continue climbing up the hillside. There are some limited views off to the left. The trail is a singletrack made up of rocks and dirt, so watch where you step.
You re-enter the woods as you meet up with Glade Trail
close to where you started. Take one final left and make your way back to the scenic viewpoint. Climb the stairs, take a moment to enjoy the view (and read up on the conservation area at the information kiosk there), and return to your car.
The trails through this area are well marked and provide a great chance to enjoy a hike in the woods. On rainy days, water runs down the trails so make sure you wear appropriate shoes. There are a couple of stream crossing which are easy rock hops most of the year, but can become trickier if it has been raining recently.
Most of the area was donated or purchased from Ruth and Paul Henning. Paul is best known as the creator of the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction television series. It was their wish to keep this beautiful landscape for all to enjoy.