The Ultimate Guide to Your Next Ha Ha Tonka Adventure- Hiking, Nearby Fun, and Lodging Tips

on 20 Apr 2019

If you're never visited Ha Ha Tonka State Park before, I suggest you start planning your trip now. For those who love hiking, history, and the outdoors, a day of adventure at Lake of the Ozarks will be right up your alley. It's easy to plan for kids, strollers, and wheelchairs. But if you're an avid hiker that wants to get into the thick of the woods, there's something for you too!

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a great place for locals, Missourians, and long-distance travelers to check out. For locals, it's hard to believe something this great is in our backyard. For those vacationing in the area, the castle ruins are a wonderful way to spend the day and worthy of a day trip or as a morning activity during your Lake of the Ozarks stay.

If you're wondering about the specifics of the hiking trails, we'll cover that first. We'll also give you info about lodging, restaurants, and other fun entertainment near the park. Here we go!

Hiking at Ha Ha Tonka State Park

The owners of the original castle picked their location for a reason! The property boasts amazing beauty during any season. With features like a natural bridge, spring, and gorgeous overlook, there's something to be wowed by at every turn. You can easily choose an easy walk or spend the entire day hiking and enjoying the scenery.

The castle was built in the early 1900s by a real estate and business mogul. He purchased the land because of its beauty, intending to spend his weekends exploring it. Of course, he intended to build on it as well, with a 60-room castle in mind. Sadly, the owner died in an auto accident, and his sons continued the build. It was soon turned into a hotel and burned due to a rogue fireplace spark. The park was created in the 70s to let visitors from all over enjoy the beauty of the land and see the huge castle.

The hike to the castle is simple if you park in the closest parking lot. The ruins have been blocked off recently due to structural issues, but you can still see the empty castle well. Adults will be amazed at the architecture while kids will love imagining themselves living in such a grand home. The castle sits on top of a cliff and there are overlook areas built for you to enjoy the stunning view. Coming from the closest parking lot, you'll walk by the old rock stable as well. You can park a little further away for a nice walk through the woods.

If you want to explore beyond the castle, follow the miles long Quarry Trail. It's the route used to transport all the rocks used in the castle when it was being built. A short bit of tracks still exist that mules used to pull each block from the sandstone quarry.

From the castle, take the Dell Rim Trail up to the water tower, which is a marvel in itself. Keep going down Devil's Kitchen trail, which winds around the bluff on a wooden path. It leads directly into the Spring Trail.

The Spring Trail leads down a bluff, with many stairs (not for the out of shape). Once you get to the bottom, the bright blue-green of the spring water will amaze you. Keep following the trail as the water feeds into the Lake of the Ozarks. You can also reach the Spring via a path from a parking lot nearby if you're not wanting to traverse the stairs. The Island is a little parcel of land created by the two forks of the Spring creek. The Island Trail is short, but hilly, and it's fun to look at the Balanced Rock and wonder how it got there.

Instead of going down to see the spring, you can veer off and take the Colosseum Trail. You'll hike down into an old sinkhole with lots of lore, then right into the Natural Bridge. The Natural Bridge is a sight to see for its sheer size alone. Learning about geography and the natural history of the area makes you appreciate it even more. There's a parking lot near the Natural Bridge, so you can choose to make it a quick stop if you desire.

Ha Ha Tonka is great entertainment for anyone who loves being outdoors. It's also easy to plan your trip based on your group's needs. 

Navigating with a Stroller or Wheelchair

If a smooth path is required for you to enjoy your trip, you're in luck because there is plenty to see! The castle ruins are accessible via a paved path. The terrain isn't completely flat, but it's doable for most people. There are also picnic areas that are specifically built with accessibility in mind.

Activities Near Ha Ha Tonka

If you're in for a day of outdoor activities, head over to Sugarloaf Vineyard Kayaking after your morning at the state park. Rent a kayak or a paddle board and navigate to Onyx cave, which is accessible by water.

Another fun family activity in the great outdoors is trail riding at Old Family Farm Trail Rides. Learn about the area from the owners while enjoying the saunter of your equine ride.

If you're staying near Ha Ha Tonka, there's a nice music venue called Ozarks Amphitheater nearby. Check out their band schedule before you book your stay and spend the evening rocking out under the stars.

Places to Eat Near Ha Ha Tonka

RJ's Family Restaurant in Camdenton is the perfect spot to stop in for breakfast before you arrive at Ha Ha Tonka. Their house made breakfast will fill you up and energize you for the long hike ahead.

Golden Rock Winery is a short drive from Ha Ha Tonka and is a great after-hike entertainment if you're traveling with a partner or group of adults. Enjoy a glass of wine with a pizza or sandwiches to end your day right.

Lodging, Accommodations, Resorts, and Hotels Near Ha Ha Tonka

Cottage By The Castle is as close as you can stay to the park. Wake up to a home made breakfast, or head out for the day with a prepared picnic basket. Also available are canoes and kayaks so you can explore the park from the water.

Old Kinderhook's lodge or house rentals are the perfect place to pamper yourself after a hard day or hiking and exploring the outdoors. Enjoy their amenities like restaurants, spa, golf course and sports activities.

Hopefully, we've given you all the information you need to plan a memorable trip to Ha Ha Tonka on your next trip to Lake of the Ozarks. It's one of the best parts of the Ozarks, and we know you'll enjoy it.


Photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, and was taken by Jason Runyon.