Beautiful Ha Ha Tonka State Park boasts over 3,7000 acres of lush woodland on the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, near Camdenton, Camden County Missouri.
The park is a delight of natural wonders. In addition to Missouri’s 12th largest spring, you’ll discover caves, natural bridges, unique rock formations, massive sinkholes, towering bluffs, and dense forests that give way to rocky glades! PLUS the ruins of an old stone castle and 31 MILES OF PRIME HIKING TRAILS! It’s a nature lover’s paradise!
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Table of Contents
Ha Ha Tonka Trails
There are many miles of trail, rocky trails, steep climbs, rugged terrain, open woodland ALL REQUIRING STURDY SHOES, so make sure you wear some!
How to organize your time
Wanting to hike Ha Ha Tonka but confused about how to see as many trails as possible without doing a lot of unnecessary back tracking? Well then I have you covered! With 31.1 miles of beautiful trails in the park, hiking Ha Ha Tonka can be a bit confusing.
I made a selection of the most scenic trails and combined them for efficiency and included maps for clarity.
How did I choose these trails?
With only one day to spend in the park it wouldn’t be possible to hike all of the trails so I wanted to concentrate on the most scenic trails. I searched for pictures and found these trails to be the most visually appealing.
General Information about the trails
Things you may encounter on the trails:
- interpretive stops or interpretive signs
- steep grades and inclines
- bluffs or drop-offs next to trail
- gravel/shifting rock
- slippery surface
- natural obstacles such as downed vegetation on trail and other physically challenging obstacles
- steps and stairs
- structural crossings
- Water crossings without bridges
The trails in this park are extremely well marked and color coded so although the trails are extensive, you won’t need to worry about getting lost!
Ha Ha Tonka State Park hikes: the 4 best hikes in the park
So let’s get started! I did these all in one day. It was a long, tiring, but fulfilling day in this beautiful park.
Here are 4 recommended Ha Ha Tonka trails or combinations of trails that you can do in a day: (Approximate distance hiked for the day 6 miles)
Trail #1: Castle trail
Trail description: paved trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible, vista views of the Lake of the Ozarks, 3 scenic overlooks, carriage house ruins, several park benches
|trail length:||0.4 mile|
|approximate time:||18 minutes|
|blaze marker color:||yellow|
|recommended direction:||linear trail|
|trail head GPS location:||trail head 1: 37.97798, -92.76632 |
trail head 2: 37.97548, -92.76798
|closest parking:||There are two parking areas for the castle. The first lot that you come to is larger and has more spaces. The upper lot has limited parking and is recommended for people with disabilities and elderly.|
Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins:
There are ruins of a 20th century castle right in the park. I recommend arriving early. It’s a good time to explore the Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins before the crowds arrive.
At the turn of the century (1905) by Robert McClure Snyder Sr., a Kansas City businessman began construction of the Ha Ha Tonka Castle . Unfortunately Mr Snyder died just a year later. The sons of Robert Snyder completed the caste in the 1920. In the late 30’s it was used as a hotel before being destroyed by fire in 1942. The state of Missouri purchased the castle in 1978. The carriage house, a rock house sits next to the castle.
Hike #2: Dell Rim Trail / Devil’s Kitchen Trail / Oak Woodland Trail
Approximate total for this hiking trail combination at Ha Ha Tonka State Park: 1.7 miles
Parking: I started this trail combo off from the trailhead at the parking area on Castle Ruins Road, the one closest to the castle. I got there early and managed to grab one of the prime parking spots.
Tip: If you get there early enough head on over to the castle first so you can get some good photos before the crowds roll in. It gets quite crowded as the day progresses.
Trail map combination: Dell Rim/ Devil’s Kitchen/ Oak Woodland
Section 1: Dell Rim
Dell Rim trail overlooks the 150 ft deep Whispering Dell Sinkhole. Stroll down the wooden boardwalk. Climb the wooden stairs to the stately old water tower. The trail circles around the sinkhole and ends at a second overlook on the other side of the sinkhole. On the other side you’ll get views of the water tower.
The water tower:
It’s just a short walk from the ruins of the castle to the water tower. The tower is located at the beginning of Dell Rim Trail, a short walk from the castle parking areas. The tower was constructed in 1905 to supply water to the castle.
I especially liked this short but sweet trail, so if you aren’t into long distances or are pressed for time this is your trail! and if you have lots of time, don’t skip this one!
IMPORTANT: Don’t walk to the end of this trail. We are going to continue on to Devil’s kitchen trail and loop around as shown in the map below. When you come to the BROWN blaze markers denoting Devil’s Kitchen Trail follow them.
Del Rim Trail Trail description: connects to Colosseum, Spring and Devil’s Kitchen trails. The boardwalk to the first Whispering Dell Overlook, .07 mile, is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
|trail length||0.3 miles (out and back)|
|approximate time||12 minutes|
|blaze marker color||red|
|trail head GPS location:||37.97530, -92.76717|
Section 2: Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole
As I said we’ll cut the Dell Rim Trail short for now and follow long the Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole Trail. (we’ll catch the rest of the Del Rim trail on our way back.)
Devi’s kitchen is a particularly rugged trail. Watch for the Devil’s Promenade (a large bluff that walls in part of the trail.) You must step across a small gap in the bedrock, watch your step on the rocky terrain in this area. Stop at the small cave and take a look back out of the cave for a view of the sky through the chimney at the rear of the cave. This trail joins others, so watch for the brown blazes to stay on the trail.
note: this trail does cross the road in a few spots. I did find it a little difficult to pick up the trail again, just look for signs. There should be large footprints painted on the road to help you find your way.
My little Evie really enjoyed exploring this trail. (dogs permitted on all trails, must be leashed)
Devil’s Kitchen Trail is a woodland hike featuring Devil’s Kitchen Cave, The trail joins Spring, Colosseum and Dell Rim trails
|trail length||1.3 mile loop|
|approximate time||1 hour 20 minutes|
|blaze marker color||Brown|
|Trailhead GPS location||37.97359, -92.76233|
Section #3: Oak Woodland Trail
After walking this trail I decided that for me it was skip’able. It didn’t find it particularly asthetic but I came before the leaves were on the trees. I imagine it is prettier when the leaves are on the trees, and is also provides opportunity for spotting something found on the bird watching checklist.
Trail description: paved trail, disability accessible (wheelchair and stroller accessible)
|trail length||0.1 mile loop|
|approximate time||2 minutes|
|blaze marker color||Blue|
|trail head GPS location||37.97367, -92.76247|
Hike #3: Colosseum Trail at Ha Ha Tonka State Park
After completing the Dell Rim/ Devil’s Kitchen / Oak Woodland trail combination I returned to my car and re-parked at the Colosseum trail head parking area.
map of Colosseum Trail: Note that parts of this trail may be closed just past the natural bridge, for more information continue reading below.
Colosseum Trail winds under one of the natural wonders of the park, a natural bridge (a massive stone arch left behind when the cave system around it collapsed and continues on through 150 ft deep Colosseum Sinkhole. This long narrow bridge was actually open to traffic until 1980 when it was closed because it was too narrow to accommodate vehicles and hikers
Just beyond the natural bridge I found this sign and was not permitted to continue on with this trail:
This is something we never want to see. Please be respectful when enjoying our natural areas, access to them is a privilege, which can be taken from us at any time.
Trail description: natural bridge, large sinkhole,(the climb out of the sinkhole is steep) the trail shares tread with Devil’s Kitchen, Dell Rim and Spring trails.
|trail length||0.6 mile loop|
|approximate time||37 minutes|
|blaze marker color||yellow|
|trail head GPS location||37.97482, -92.76312|
Hike #4: Spring Trail / Island Trail / Boulder Ridge Trail
Approximate total for these combined hikes: 3.3 miles
Parking: We took a lunch break after the Colosseum trail hike, came back and parked here You can also access these trails from the lake parking lot.
map Spring /Island/ Boulder Ridge trail combination:
Section #1: Spring Trail:
First up one of the favorite trails in the park Spring Trail! This one has spectacular scenery. It is amazing and beautiful and EXHAUSTING!
Take caution regarding the series of steps on this trail: Before you descend the 316 wooden steps you’ll find the following precautionary notice: “This is a scenic but strenuous portion of Spring Trail. This boardwalk descends approximately 200-vertacle feet, using 316 steps. Only persons in good physical condition should hike this trail” and boy are they serious!
That being said, it is well worth the effort!
Save your legs tip: After leaving the parking lot head straight for the stairs. This allows you to go DOWN all of those steps instead of climbing UP them. On my descent into the gorge I met many (very exhausted/out of breath) people walking back up those 316 steps! After reaching the spring at the bottom, rather than head back up I carried on onto the trails below, and was able to make my way back out of the gorge at a more gradual ascent!
At the base of the steps is a lovely clear water spring, Missouri’s 12th largest, that emerges from a water-filled cave… The spring pumps out 58 million gallons of water a day. Now, squeeze between the large rocks on either side of the trail, and continue on the trail.
Spring Trail description: wooden stairs and boardwalks, an old grist mill, small shelter with tables, 0.4 mile of Spring Trail is paved and accessible to visitors with physical limitations. Spring Trail shares trails with Boulder Ridge, Colosseum and Devil’s Kitchen trails.
|trail length||1.4 mile loop|
|approximate time||1 hour|
|blaze marker color||blue|
|trailhead GPS location||trail head #1- 37.97316, -92.76852 |
trail head #2- 37.97382, -92.77432
Section #2: Island Trail
Island Trail, an offshoot of Spring trail, starts at the old mill site. On this trail you’ll find Balanced Rock (a large cylinder-shaped dolomite boulder) the confluence of Ha Ha Tonka Spring and the Lake of the Ozarks, a small breach dam where spring water runs over large boulders, and Island Cave (contact the park office if you wish to enter the cave.)
After you arrive back at Spring Trail once more, continue along the shoreline of the Lake of the Ozarks.
|trail length||0.4 mile loop|
|alternative versions||Use the white Connectors 3 and 4 to shorten or lengthen your hike.|
|approximate time||26 minutes|
|blaze marker color||green|
|trail head GPS location||37.97436, -92.77173|
section #3: Boulder Ridge Trail
Boulder Ridge Trail description: The trail consists of rocky woodland, huge sandstone boulders, bluffs and shelves, and views of the Lake of the Ozarks. Can be tricky after leaf fall.
Exhaustion got the best of me, and my husband and puppy were waiting in the car for me, so I skipped this portion of the trail. I used the white connector trail 2 located near the interpretative shelter to climb up and out of the gorge.
There is a definite incline to get back to the parking area, but I assure you, you won’t feel as if you have climbed 316 stairs!
If you choose to continue on with this section you’ll find the details below.
|trail length||1.5 mile loop|
|blaze marker color||red|
|recommended direction||MUST BE WALKED IN A CLOCKWISE DIRECTION|
|trail head GPS location|
How many trails are at Ha Ha Tonka State Park? There are 14 hiking trails in the park.
If you are looking for information on a different trail, these are some other worthwhile trails, although not a complete list of the trails in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. You’ll find a full list of trails on the park website, including trail information and an interactive map of the park trails with notations of points of interest. Happy Hiking!
more information about Ha Ha Tonka
1491 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020
Ha Ha Tonka State Park Map
The State Park website has a helpful map. Click on the map to be directed to the pdf. Be sure to check out the interactive map on the website which includes Ha Ha Tonka hiking trails (color coded) trail heads for each trail, as well as parking areas.
park access from the lake
You can also access the park from the Lake of the Ozarks Big Niangua Arm, mile marker 14 ½. There is a boat dock at the castle ruins and the spring side of the cove. Boat length limit 24 ft.
entrance fee at Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Coming from Kansas, something I especially appreciate about the Missouri State Parks is that they are free to visit! Thank you Missouri!
April through October 7:00 a.m. to sunset daily
Off season: November-March 8 a.m. gates close at sunset daily.
(dates and times are subject to change, see the official website for up to date information)
For temporary closure information see the interactive map.
Park office / visitor center hours
April-October 10-5 daily
Off season: not regularly staffed but phones are monitored through the day M-F
When is the best time to visit Ha Ha Tonka State park?
This park is enjoyable all year round but I would recommend going when the park is blanketed in green courtesy of the dense forest that covers the park.
We went in early April, probably just a couple of weeks before mother nature painted it in shades of emerald green. As far as crowds go, 609,096 people visited the park in 2020, so it likely won’t be overcrowded.
I went on a Saturday, when the weather was just starting to get nice and it was quite crowded that day. Go during the week if possible and you may just feel like you have the place all to yourself
Much to my disappointment, when I visited in early April the trees had not leafed out yet but there were stirrings of spring and a few pretty things popping up here and there:
The park is a beautiful place for a picnic. There are 20 picnic areas throughout the park, perfect for events or family gatherings.
There are two picnic shelters can be reserved for $50 per day. Free of charge and first come first serve if not reserved. with equipped with electricity, picnic tables and an outdoor grill.
For more information on the Ha Ha Tonka picnic areas see the official website.
More things fun things to do in the park
Looking for more things to do in this beautiful state park?
- A playground is located in the old post office area.
- Bird Watching at Ha Ha Tonka State Park: There are 167 species of bird in the park. The park has provided a handy checklist for the birdwatchers among us.
- Events: Concert at the Castle
Are there any Accessibility accommodations at Ha Ha Tonka State Park?
Some of the trails in the park are wheelchair accessible. For accessibility information check out their website.
where to eat
The Fish & Company
The Fish & Company is a great place if you are looking for a spot on the water. If you want to dine on their patio they’ll let you “bring Fido.” it was our Evie’s very first dining out experience. The food, service and atmosphere: all good! 11 miles from the park.
address: 268 Wego Fish Lane, Camdenton, MO 65020
where to stay
The nearest hotels are going to be in Camdenton. Prices are generally high in this area.
There’s a Sleep Inn on HWY 24 just 8 miles down the road from the park. It has indoor pool, free deluxe breakfast and an 8.3 customer rating. Prices start at around $100 per night for double occupancy.
Book it here on Booking.com!
Need more options? Search Booking.com here. You’ll even find lake houses and condos for rent! and check out the map view!
more things to do in Missouri
Other must see and do things in the great state of Missouri:
Looking for more great Missouri State Parks?
Missouri has a great interactive map that shows all of their state parks and detail information about each park including information on closings and things you should know before setting out.
Closest state parks:
There are several good state parks right in the surrounding area.
- Lake of the Ozarks State Park 20 miles
- Pomme de Terre State Park 39 miles
- Bennett Spring State Park 34 miles
How about kayaking in a cave? read about Kayaking an underground cave in Crystal City Missouri here!
Money saving resources:
Want to hear more about my travels around Missouri and the rest of our amazing planet? You may be interested in my Missouri page and be sure to submit your email address to my subscriber sign up at the end of the page and be the first to know when a new blog publishes!