“The ‘Table Rock Lakeshore Trail’ (Trail), the result of a collaborative effort between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Herschend Family Entertainment Inc., is just one of the many different types of activities Branson visitors can enjoy year round,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Too, it’s an excellent example of the variety of choices within each area of activity,” she added.
She points out that within a five minute drive of the trailhead for the Trail there is over 14 miles of trails including the those offered at the “Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery” and the 10.5 mile, roundtrip “White River Valley Trail System. “And that’s not counting the ‘trails’ starting with the ‘Branson Landing Boardwalk,’ the trails at the city of Branson’s ‘Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area’ and the five trails at the ‘Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area,’ all located within a 20 minutes or less drive from the trailhead,” she said.
Although, its main trailhead is the “Dewey Short Visitor Center Trailhead” at the extreme southwestern corner of the Center’s parking lot, there are two others, the “Showboat Branson Belle Trailhead” about .6 miles in from Dewey Short and the “Table Rock State Park Trailhead” about 1.4 miles from Dewey Short. Parking is available at all three, but the parking at the Showboat Branson Belle trailhead is available only during its seasonal operating hours and could be limited during the boats peak operational periods. Although restroom are available at both the Dewey Short and State Park trailheads they are most conveniently available at the Dewey Short Trailhead.
The 2.2 mile trail is asphalt, very level and is an ideal trail for just about everyone including families with small children. It accessible to wheel chairs, motorized and non-motorized; carriages and is intended for non-motorized activities including hiking, jogging and, although I have not personally seen much, if any, of these activities, bicycling, skateboarding scooters and roller-skating. It’s worth emphasizing that this is an ideal trail for families to experience the magnificence and beauty of the Ozarks together.
As the name “Table Rock Lakeshore Trail” would imply it follows, relatively speaking, the eastern shore line of Table Rock Lake from the Dewey Short Trailhead. It proceeds south .6 miles to the Showboat Branson Belle Trailhead, 1.4 miles to the Table Rock State Park Trailhead and 2.2 miles to its terminus in the vicinity of the “Table Rock State Park Marina.”
Although it follows the lake shore contours, it is separated from the lake by approximately 15 to 40 yards of trees and brush making actually viewing the lake sporadic, depending on one’s location on the trail and the time of the year. That’s one of the things that makes Branson’s trails, including this one, so special. Each season is different and provides a different experience. As I walked the trail today Table Rock Lake was visible the vast majority of the way because the leaves are off the trees and brush making it easy to see from the trail down to the lake and everything in between.
During the spring watching the various trees and flowers bloom out is like a virtual palette of color and freshness. It’s interesting to note that the Eastern Red Cedar, Ozark White Cedar and the Short Leaf Pine, all three of Missouri’s native evergreens, as well as Sycamore, Sassafras, Flowering Dogwood, Redbud and many other trees are found at Table Rock State Park, many of which are viewable from the trail.
In terms of wildlife, although you could see anything from deer to red foxes, armadillos, skunks and more, you are most likely to see the Eastern Gray Squirrel, Fence Lizards, chipmunks etc. as you walk the trail. The same is true for birds. Although you may see an occasional Bald Eagle, Osprey, various ducks, Pacific Loon, Turkey Buzzard or other birds flying overhead or along the lakefront the chances are that you will more than likely see the smaller birds such as the Robin, Eastern Blue Bird or one of the many other species that occupy the trees and foliage between the trail and the lake.
What you will see and experience is truly up to Mother Nature and the season. One thing is for certain however, there is not another Branson area trail that brings the beauty and majesty of the Ozarks within the reach of just about everyone, whether for it’s just for 100 feet or its entire 2.2 mile length, because of its accessibility, convenience and ease of use.
Branson Tourism Center’s Wood said, “All Branson’s trails, lakes, fishing and other outdoor activities are, but moments away from all the live entertainment, attractions, shopping and everything else that makes Branson one of America’s greatest vacation destinations.” Call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 417-334-4101for specific information on the Table Rock Lakeshore Trail. For information or tickets on any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.