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Trails

12 Best Scenic Fall Hikes in the Ozarks

Whether you're an avid hiker always seeking adventure or more of a neighborhood stroller, the Ozarks has a trail for you, no matter your skill level. So lace up your boots and be prepared to be wowed with these scenic fall hikes.

By Vivian Wheeler

Oct 2019

Young couple and their dog on a fall hike in Ha Ha Tonka in Camdenton, Missouri
Photo by Josh BeecherOne perk of Ha Ha Tonka is the fact that most of this loop traverses paved or treated terrain, which makes it great for kids and all skill levels of hikers.

This fall, as the air turns crisp and the rolling hills change from mottled green to a fiery mosaic of yellow, orange and red, get out of the house and into the woods, as autumn is prime time for hiking in the Ozarks. The worst of the pesky bugs have disappeared with the heat, and the forests are ablaze with color. In this story you’ll find 12 trails packed with breathtaking vistas, unusual geographic features, towering waterfalls and miles to explore. We’ve rounded up something for everyone, so, no matter your skill level, you can find the perfect hike. We’ve also tried to take the guesswork out of planning so you spend less time researching your trip and more time exploring. Just be sure to wear the right shoes, tell a buddy where you'll be, follow park and trail rules and get ready to lose yourself in the gorgeous glory that is autumn in the Ozarks.

Be Prepared With the Best Hiking Gear

Being prepared makes all the difference between an enjoyable hiking experience and a potential nightmare. Find out what you need to stay safe and sane on the trail and where to find the best gear in Springfield, MO.
Protect Against the Elements 
Out on the trail, too much sun or rain can ruin a trip. Invest in a lightweight rain jacket, which can pack up super-small. Sun protective clothing is becoming widely available, and a good place to look for it is in the fishing section of a sporting store. And, as always, wear sunscreen.
Don’t Skimp on the Bug Spray
Unless it’s winter, we highly recommend using bug spray. There is nothing worse than being bit by hundreds of seed tricks or eaten alive by mosquitoes. Trust us, we’ve been there, and it’s miserable.
Invest in Quality Hiking Shoes
The right footwear is essential to being 
comfortable while hiking. Skip the online shopping and get professionally fitted for hiking boots. It can also be helpful to pack a pair of lightweight but sturdy sandals for water crossings. We love the Teva brand for this purpose.
Always Wear Quality Socks
Wearing quality socks is crucial to a comfortable hiking experience. Nothing beats wool socks for keeping your feet warm, cool and fungus free. We suggest springing for 100-percent Merino wool socks. Additionally, it’s always smart to pack a couple of extra pairs of socks.
Where to Buy Your Hiking Gear
Hiking gear is available locally. Hit up Bass Pro Shops (1935 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-887-7334) and Ozark Adventures (1111 E. Republic Road, Ste. 140, Springfield, 417-889-6633) for all your hiking accoutrements and expert advice.

How to Go Hiking with a Group

If you’re a hiking novice or just looking to meet like-minded people, consider connecting with a local group that organizes guided hikes.
Known for crafting experiences that pair outdoor activities with food and libations, 37 North Expeditions offers trips such as a sunset hike and s’mores and cave spelunking and a brewery tour. Find out more here.
As an arm of the Springfield–Greene County Park Board, Outdoor Initiatives’ goal is to provide outdoor recreation programs and education at an affordable price. In addition to hiking, Outdoor Initiatives offers floating and camping trips. Check out the Park Board's website more info.
The Springfield Conservation Nature Center organizes monthly guided hikes at locations throughout the region. These do tend to fill up quickly, so be sure to sign up early. Find a list of hikes and other events here.
Hiking the Ozarks plans guided hikes and classes throughout the year. Don’t miss its 10th Annual Outdoor Rendezvous in Jasper, Arkansas, on November 1. Enjoy rock climbing classes, guided hikes, yoga and more at this weekend-long event. Sign up online.
If you're looking to explore more of the Natural State, be sure to check out the NWA Hiking Group. This group of outdoors enthusiasts hosts meet ups year round in order to take advantage of all that northwest Arkansas has to offer. Learn more here.

5 Reasons We Love the Ozarks Greenways

We’d be remiss if we didn’t spend a few inches of this story talking about our beloved Ozark Greenways. Right here in Greene County we have 10 greenways and miles and miles of scenic trails to explore. There are a lot of reasons to love the Greenways, but here are our top five.
You can be in nature in minutes.
From just about anywhere in Springfield you can be on a Greenways trail in 15 minutes, so there’s no excuse not to get out and get some miles in.
 There are hikes for all skills levels.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll on a paved path or hoping for a workout on some challenging terrain, there’s a trail for you. For an easy hike, visit the Jordan Creek Greenway, and to get your blood pumping, head to the Sac River trail.
You can bike to a winery and brewery.
You can explore other towns.
The Frisco Highline Trail runs from Springfield to Willard and then on to Bolivar. Part of this trail is paved, which makes it ideal for spending a day biking to different watering holes in these neighboring towns.
They’re only getting better.
The hardworking folks at Ozark Greenways are constantly improving the Greenways. We’re super-excited that Jordan Creek Greenway is being expanded to reach West Meadows, an area west of downtown that used to be an industrial corridor.

Choose Your Trail

With plenty of trails to choose from, you can stick close to home or make it a day or weekend trip.