Exploring the Outdoors

Explore: Ha Ha Tonka State Park

I’ve lived out here in the middle of Missouri for almost 11 years now. This summer is honestly the only summer where I can say I have really enjoyed living here. Still and forever a city girl at heart <3 🙂 We have really taken advantage of many of the outdoor fun/entertainment that is offered!

We took the kids to the river a few times and pulled out the kayaks and fishing poles. Jayson and I have hit a bunch of the trails/state parks. I’ll eventually write about the trips to Elephant Rock, Taum Sauk, and Big Piney. I am super slacking….. This weekend, we are throwing the kayaks up on the Subaru, loading our “new” Pop Up camper, and heading to the Lake of the Ozarks State Park.

A few weeks ago, we decided to have a day date, dropped the kids off at Jayson’s moms, and hit the road for 90 miles. After a crazy lunatic decided to go all road rage on us, we arrived at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

I honestly thought it was just a park with some old ruins. I even looked into it a couple months ago for the site of our wedding ceremony. I thought the castle ruins would be really neat! You’re only allowed 25 people, and since there is like, a bajillion in Jayson’s family, that was out.

I had no idea that there was a lake, sinkholes, caves, and so much more there! We found the lake and some great swimming holes along our way!

If you’re going to Ha Ha Tonka just for the ruins, you’re in luck! There are a couple of parking spots you can choose from. One is very close to the old castle. There is limited parking, however. It’s sort of like driving through the parking lot of JCCC, stalking students who are leaving classes in the hopes of snagging up a decently close parking space so that you don’t have to trek a mile to yours, especially in winter weather!

There’s another lot just down the hill a bit with multiple entrances to a paved trail (Castle Trail) that will take you right from the lot to the ruins. It was less than a mile walk from the lot, to the ruins, going off trail to go around the ruins, and back. The paved trail is mostly through the woods, so it’s well covered!

After Castle Trail, we hopped in the car and went down to Colosseum Trail. This one is known for it’s “Natural Bridge.” It takes only a few minutes to walk from the parking lot to the cave/bridge.

When we started this trail, there were a bunch of people so we didn’t bother to stop to take pictures. On our way back, there was a couple getting some engagement photos taken. We hid around some bushes for a bit and waited for them to leave. Hopefully, they won’t end up with any photos where I’m photobombing in the background. Creeper Alert 😛

Colosseum Trail is loop trail rated as MODERATE on the All Trails app. There are sections that are a bit to follow. I honestly would have gotten lost numerous times, despite having my map pulled up, if Jayson weren’t with me. I would have to say that these trails were some of the prettiest trails we’ve been on! We’ve had a lot of rain this spring/summer, and it showed. Everything was so green and in bloom. I loved the rock stairs and some of the wooden ones. It’s nice to walk on something other than pebbles or dirt. I like change……sometimes 😛

We accidentally came across Spring Trail. I was complaining about the climb to the top of part of Colosseum trail and noticed a fork in the trail. Im thankful to have gone onto Spring Trail the way we did because stairs and I do not get along 😛 Luckily, the majority of the steps we climbed were downward. Can you imagine climbing 316 steps after already hitting other trails? Maybe I’m just out of shape and whiney?

Something about these damp steps, some covered in moss, mixed in with all the greenery was just, pleasing. It led you to a narrow path between some large rocks you have to climb around. Our kids would’ve loved it had they come!

The spring is simply beautiful. It’s blue-green, but yet crystal clear, if that makes any sense. The boardwalk alongside the water is a sweet little stroll.

We ventured off onto Island Trail and found a sweet spot to cool off in the water, had I brought my suit or a change of clothes. Or if I liked being in water… There were plenty boaters and tubers around too. Another spot our kids would have enjoyed!

I struggled the most after leaving this swimming hole. It was a lot of climbing and I swear, I am in decent shape, but all I could think of was, “Why are my legs so jello-ie?”

Leaving Island Trail and jumping back onto Spring Trail, we headed west and continued along the river. After a while, it takes you through a simple field/clearing. You can see the cars driving by on the road just down the hill. As you walk back into the woods to the Natural Bridge, the path sits close to the street. For me, cause I was dying, it was a relief because I knew we were close to the car 😛 Believe it or not, an Ice Cream truck drove by just as we rounded to curb to the car!!

At the car, we grabbed our waters and snacks, then walked back over to the bridge. Like I mentioned before, we had to wait for a bit, but we did finally get our pictures 🙂

Overall, I loved hiking Ha Ha Tonka! There are trails that we did not get to hike that I know Jayson was wanting to hit. So, I’m sure a “next time” will be happening soon! I plan on hiking with my swimsuit on. I wouldn’t mind dipping my toes in or getting in the water just a bit!

I enjoyed the different degrees of difficulty and the changes of scenery throughout the different trails. It definitely keeps it from getting boring!

Jayson’s Salomon Speed Cross 4 Trail Running Shoes
Prices depend on size and color:
Salomon.com $130
REI.com $95.93 (currently on clearance as of 8/12/19)
Amazon.com $129.95

Osprey Stratos 24 Men’s Day Hiking Pack:
Osprey.com $130
REI.com $130
Amazon.com $124.82

My Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoes:
Altra.com $120
REI.com $120
Amazon.com $119.95

E3 Energy Cubes – Snack Bars:
Visit the Shop HERE and use code DIANE for 10% off your total
My favorites are the PB & Chocolate or the Almond Cherry

Trimr Bottle as well as the Muscle tank and Panel Shorts:
Canadians, shop HERE for the Trimr Bottle
United States, shop HERE for the Trimr Bottle
Both shops can use codeDIANE15 for 15% off

IdealShape Boost:
Shop HERE for the IdealShape BOOSTs
Use code DIANE for 10% off

Disclaimer: I am a TERRIBLE writer. I don’t use big words or the best describing words. But I have so much to share! Please read my full disclosure HERE