Mountain Biking-and Maybe Hiking at Fellows Lake

This connector trail led to the Little Bit trail.

So I learned a valuable lesson today, maybe a few of them.  I have been wanting to bike more and several weeks ago happened upon a bike rack on clearance that would fit the Kia and aide me in my goal.  So today, I decided to try my hand, for the first time, mountain biking some of the trails at Fellows Lake which is only a short drive away from my home.

After the nail biting drive down Hwy 65, watching my bike on the rack more than I watched the road in front of me (luckily it was a low traffic period) I unloaded my Schwinn mountain bike from the rack, slung my string bag loaded with water and Clif Bars over my back and proceeded to bike my way down the Little Bit trail located just off N. FR 197, close to where the access for the handicap fishing dock is located.

Lesson One:  I should probably buy a helmet.  For some reason, I was not expecting the level of difficulty that came with this adventure or misadventure.  I expected to ride over some hills, stay on a dirt track, and pedal through some water-maybe.  It is next to a lake.  What I discovered was the trails are very narrow, I don’t know my bike as well as I thought I did, and there were obstacles someone had placed in the way, like logs that were lined up, high banked curves and rocks placed over streams.  I brake-checked myself numerous times and thanked god I had not invited anyone to ride with me and witness my ineptitude.

One of the obstacles on the Little Bit Trail

Lesson Two:  Beginner trails are in the eye of the beginner.  I had no business being on these “beginner” trails today.  My awesome goal of biking casually through the woods of Fellows Lake quickly turned into a hike as I abandoned my 2 wheeled transport next to a tree near a particularly startling obstacle and had a good hike for about 20 minutes before turning around and heading back. 

Pretty much chickened out of this biking adventure today.

Hiking felt pretty good until I ran into two full blown spider webs with my face.  I quickly realized I was the first one through the trails this morning and no one else had cleared out the creepy crawlers before me.  I grabbed a long stick, walked directly into another web, breaking said stick while thrashing about trying to get the sticky webbing off my face and shoulders.  Grabbed a stouter stick and proceeded to sweep it ahead of me to remove any more dangerous spider predators before resuming my hike.

Fellows was quiet and beautiful, regardless of the spiders that tried to catch me for breakfast.  The new Ozark Greenways Trail system meanders around the entire lake, giving miles of peaceful though sometimes challenging hiking and biking opportunities.  I think I will check out some of the smaller bike routes for this fall when the changes will make for an excellent and somewhat cooler experience.  You are allowed to bike and hike these trails, but be vigilant.  It can be somewhat hard to see the trail ahead of you due to the foliage.  Be ready to call out if you are mountain biking these trails so that hikers can move aside allowing you to pass.

The marina has maps of all the trails available around the lake, some as short as .14 miles and as long as 4.5 miles.  Most of the trails are in and back as they are not looped so remember you must save enough energy to get your bike back to the car.   I have been guilty of this before-having so much fun getting there that I forget I have to go back!

Lesson Three:  Check your equipment before loading your bike back onto your vehicle, especially if you have a strap-on model bike rack.  I got home and discovered the bottom strap was nowhere near my trunk where it should have been.  Luckily enough, the other straps held the bike in place and it didn’t fly off and hit any other motorists while I was cruising down Hwy 65!

Lesson Four:  Go have fun!  This was a rather nerve racking thing for me to do alone.  I know how to ride a bike, of course, but to do something like this took some courage even for someone who loves to do new things.  I was so happy I did it and I got in a good workout.  PS:  I did tell my daughter where I was just in case I landed in a ditch somewhere ;-).

Check out the YouTube channel for a video of part of the trail and Instagram at htdto2020 for more pics.

Hiking Hemmed In Hollow Part II

Float traffic on the Upper Buffalo River on Mother’s Day weekend was high even with the river running fast. Cole and I were in agreement that the river was much too high to float at our current experience level. The hike was enough for this girl. Still there were plenty of people with children and dogs floating on Saturday and I wished them well. There is a point during the float where you are able to beach your craft and hike from the river to the falls. This video shows that access point and it is certainly less physically taxing and only 1.5 miles or so. Folks walking in from the river to the falls were wearing bathing suits, Chakos, and carrying their beer-hikers didn’t fall into that category for the most part. Personally, I was wishing I had brought some sturdy hiking boots with better ankle support and less slippery soles than my Brooks tennis shoes!

Traffic and water were high on the Upper Buffalo River Mother’s Day weekend

A few things about the ascent that saved our bacon. Liquid IV that Darby had the foresight to buy before joining us on Friday night and my Ascent trekking poles which were a Mother’s Day present. Liquid IV is a powder that you mix with water or Powerade/Gatorade to increase your electrolyte balance and give you a shot of energy. Look for it in the drink mix aisle at your local grocery store. We also brought plenty of snacks including crunchy peanut butter, pretzel sticks, trail mix, and Clif bars. Again, we still fell short on water/Powerade which was important for the ascent as we took more breaks and used more water. Cole did have his Sawyer Squeeze ( available at Bass Pro and Academy, but it needed to be cleaned and output was torturously slow.

Ascend trekking poles available at Bass Pro for approximately $50

As we climbed up the equivalent of The Empire State Building that Saturday afternoon, I kept reminding myself that if the worst should happen and we needed to spend the night in the woods, we were prepared for it. We still had plenty of food to get through a single night, Cole had fire starting equipment, I had toilet paper and we knew there was a cabin down a different trail as well as how to build a squirrel’s nest for shelter if needed. Luckily, by placing one foot in front of the other and resting when needed, we did not have to rely on our backcountry skills to survive the night. Expect the best, prepare for the worst.

Typical squirrels nest shelter

Over that Mother’s Day weekend, a hiker from Springfield fell to his death near the Indian Creek drainage area. Read the article here: A lot of this area is backcountry, rated difficult on Alltrails, steep and was very slippery with all the rain that had fallen the previous week. No matter what your skill level, accidents can happen; hikers and floaters should take stock of their experience level and if necessary, hike and/or float with a licensed and insured guide that is familiar with the area in all conditions. If it had rained any more on Friday before leaving for Arkansas, I doubt I would have hiked this particular trail. Cole and I are well versed in first aide, CPR, and carry enough emergency supplies to get by in a pinch. Except, apparently, for water which we really need to get better at.

All in all, this was an excellent gift to myself. Time with the kids, out in nature, doing something challenging and a bit dangerous. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

The end of a long haul!

Hiking Hemmed In Hollow, Arkansas

The warning sign that we did not read before beginning our descent!

This hiking trip took a year to accomplish due to my transportation issues last year with my Kia. I love planning Mother’s Day outings like to celebrate with my kids, husband and my own mom when possible. I have been wanting to hike Hemmed In Hollow for years. It is a beautiful spot outside Compton Arkansas, but a tough hike for anyone who is not in fairly decent shape. I wanted to do this in the spring before it was too hot so Mother’s Day seemed like the perfect weekend. On Friday night, Cole, Darby and I headed down to Arkansas to celebrate Mother’s Day together.

On this trip, I reserved my very first Airbnb rental right outside Jasper, Arkansas, a 40-minute drive from Compton. The Buffalo River Bunkhouse was everything we were expecting and more, you can check it out here Thelma, the owner, lives on site and has another Airbnb on the premises called The Bungalow which is perfect for 1-2 people. Thelma had stocked everything we could want including shampoo, soap, toothpaste and extra blankets. She even had little cans of Starbucks Breakfast Blend which we had for breakfast on our second morning. Of course, we brought our own food, but the grill, fridge, stove, and microwave all came in handy and what luxury over tent camping! The only thing that would have made this spot more perfect was a hot tub. The property is located on the Little Buffalo River and has access from the backyard. Cole and I paid for 3 day non resident Arkansas fishing permits ($16 at Walmart in Harrison) just in case we had a chance to get some fishing in.

The Buffalo River Bunkhouse outside Jasper Arkansas

Here in the Ozarks, we can get a lot of rain in April and May, making hiking and kayaking more challenging. The week before this hike, Springfield Mo had received a lot of rainfall, meaning that Northern Arkansas most likely had close to the same amount right before this trip. What this translates to is a definite no from me and the kids on the idea of kayaking the Upper Buffalo River when it was running very high and then walking about 1.5 miles to the falls. No thank you.

To prepare for this particular hike I had been working on strength training, stair climbing, swimming and cardio so that I could enjoy it more and hurt less. Even with all the preparation, my legs were still not ready for this degree of hiking and downright scampering around the rocks. Alltrails rated this hike difficult and they were not kidding. Two days later, my quads and hamstrings were still locked up at times and it took a few precious minutes to ease into a walk that didn’t look more like a limp. Picture 7-8 sets of stairs like the ones below, with scenery and clear spots in between and you will have a good idea of what this hike entailed. We measured it at about 6.5-7 miles total as we also hiked the 1.5 miles to the Buffalo River to hang hammocks and rest before the ascent out.

A series of stone steps like these are a big part of the trail at Hemmed In Hollow

On the trailhead outside Compton stands a photo with measurements of the Empire State Building in NYC and a statement letting folks know that the climb out from the hollow (or holler if you’re from the South), is equivalent to climbing that famous building. We did not see this notice! It’s probably a good thing because I might have talked myself out of the hike before I even started, and Darby definitely would have. By the end of it all, the general consensus was the trail was brutal, but worth it.

After raining for multiple days, the area was waterlogged and beautiful.

What we sometimes forget when hiking because we are so excited to get where we are going, is that the way down is also difficult. When stepping down uneven terrain, you are constantly controlling your weight to not pitch forward, using your leg muscles to control every step. By the time I was 3/4 of the way down to the falls, my legs were already trembling with the effort. Not a fun thing to contemplate when looking back up and realizing you have to do the entire thing in reverse before the sun goes down. We initially started out hike at about 10:30 a.m. and we were back on top at 6:30 p.m. We did take a few short breaks coming down, one longer one at the falls and then a 35-minute break at the river swinging in the hammocks and eating a late lunch. The ascent was MANY breaks broken into consistent climbing or scrambling back up rocks, some of which we had slid down on our butts during the descent. The trip back up took 3 hours, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

The hike was brutal but worth this experience!

Watch for the next installment of this hike next week. I’ll fill you in on what happened next and let you know what items we had the foresight to pack that really saved the day. Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page at How to do the Ozarks and Instagram at htdto2020.

Pomme de Terre State Park-Hiking Indian Point Trail

What to do on a beautiful April day???!!! Take a hike!!! So cliché, I know. After trying to coax my son Cole and my coworker Laura out for the morning, I gave up and shoved my German Shephard, Sammy into the car and took off for the 50-minute drive to Pomme de Terre State Park. Why 50 minutes for a 28 mile trip you may ask? Well I headed out in the wrong direction!!! I don’t know what I was thinking but I headed West instead of North. Just goes to show you that you can live somewhere for years and still get turned around especially when distracted by loading an excited animal into your vehicle and forgetting to check Maps.

One of the Indian Point Trailheads at Pomme de Terre

Much to my dismay, Sammy gets carsick. She’s about 10 years old and hasn’t done much traveling, only short trips to the vet. So, I’m driving along, and she is puking in the backseat. Now normally I would have not been pleased, and may have had a few choice words for her, but this was my bright idea to take her for company so it’s on me.

Pomme de Terre is located in Hickory County north and slightly west of Buffalo, Mo. It’s a two-finger lake, beautiful any time of year and generally crowded in the summer with campers, boaters, and lake people in general. The Indian Point Trail has several trailheads, a map may be accessed here: and is a 3 mile moderately rated hike. The trail was generally well blazed with blue markers except for the jaunt out to Indian Point. Blue blazes were nowhere to be found, but the trail is well used and being on a point, well we just went with it.

Sammy attempting to chase that mysterious noise while at Indian Point.

One of the best things about hiking in the middle of the week in the spring is the absolute absence of any other person on the trail. We encountered no one, not one single soul. It was glorious, quiet except for birds and the occasional boat motor of enthusiastic fishermen and women. I found the trail easy to navigate and not difficult at all with a few damp spots from recent rains. Generally, I wear tennis shoes when hiking and a good pair of boots would have been welcome with this terrain which was also rocky in areas. I did remember to take my snacks this time and plenty of water for me and the dog. She does not like to drink out of the bottle, but I managed to get some fluid into her mouth during our rest breaks. 3 miles was a good prep for the Mother’s Day hike I’m taking in Arkansas this year to Hemmed In Hollow. I was hoping to get there last year, but circumstances with my car prevented that trip.

Not a lot of cover this time of year, but beautiful regardless

One thing I love about the Missouri State Parks website is that you can click on an icon for whatever you’re interested in doing at a particular park like hiking, fishing, or boating and it will immediately take you to that particular page on the website. Pomme de Terre has two hiking trails listed for their park, but Indian Point was the longest. Stockton Lake is my favorite along with Bull Shoals in Arkansas, but Pomme de Terre in the spring is quiet, waiting to come to life and ready to welcome us all.

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page at How to do the Ozarks and Instagram at htdto2020.

Hiking Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area

Lot’s of rocky, steep terrain, but a good challenge.

Spring arrived early this past weekend with temps in the middle 60’s and blue skies!  Cole and I shoved his Husky, Balto into the car and took off south from Springfield on Hwy 65 towards Branson to hike the Yellow Trail at Busiek State Forest One of seven blazed trails in the park,we  occasionally heard the sound of gunfire from the pistol range and the traffic on Hwy 65, but otherwise it was a great 4.3 mile hike.

Some highlights from the trip:

  • I remembered to bring snacks!!!
    • I was smart and checked Alltrails before heading out so I was ready with my crocs for the river crossing which we had to do twice.  I hate hiking in wet shoes!
    • I felt really empowered with this hike as we accomplished the 4 miles in 2 ½ hours so I was pushing it.

The trails we encountered were well blazed and also had occasional metal signs posted that indicated where on the trail you were-there were 3 or 4 of these on the yellow trail.  I’m not a good map reader, but Cole is so we didn’t take the longer route.  There are several offshoots from the trail that are more rugged and will give you a longer hike, so if you are looking to spend more time check those out.  I noticed that the uphill climbs really pushed my heart rate and the downhill trek really tested my leg strength.  I had jelly legs at one point, but quickly recovered as I have been working out more and climbing more stairs to get ready for hiking.

Lot’s of water on this hike!

There were a lot of people out hiking with their dogs and kids, mountain bikers and folks riding their horses.  This park accommodates all types of recreation so be prepared.  Balto is a fairly well behaved dog except when he is on a leash-then he tries to pull your arm off.  Keep your pets and young children close on the trails and near the water.  Balto is no swimmer and some areas drop off quickly in the river, though the bottom is still visible.

The shooting range is on the west side of Hwy 65 so hiking on the east side was preferable to me.  There are trails off of the shooting range as well.  Primitive camping is available with a special use permit and can be obtained by calling (417) 895-6880. 

Balto definitely had a blast!!

Surprisingly, we did not see a lot of wildlife on Sunday.  There were a few birds and a huge vulture that flew close to the treetops, but no squirrels or other small game were visible.  Of course, we had a large dog with us and he may have helped to scare any small critters away.  All in all a good hike, good company and I can’t wait until the next one.  So pack up your snacks, dog, extra water and get out there.

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

The Blair Ridge (or was it Witch) Trail

2017 Subaru WRX Sti

Super fun car to take down the curvy roads of Hwy 125 Taney County MO

Hercules Glades Wilderness Taney County Missouri

Driving down Hwy 125 is almost more fun than hiking any of the 32 miles of trails located in this picturesque part of Mark Twain National Forest in Taney County.  My son, Cole and I loaded our hiking gear into his new (to him) Subaru WRX STi and shifted our way down the curvy highway to our turn off at Blair Ridge Trail Road a few miles south of Bradleyville.  Motorcyclists were out in force as well, enjoying the hot day and the challenging roadway.

This particular Sunday (August 23, 2020) was hot, 94 degrees and sunny but I felt after my last hike up at Taum Sauk, I was prepared for the 6.2 miles of Blair Ridge.  Of course, Cole had to say something about the Blair Witch Project before we began hiking, then eased my wildly running imagination by showing me his new purchase-a sidearm that was not too heavy to hike with but would stop a deranged killer if we happened to meet one.

We had wanted to camp on this particular weekend as I had Monday off, but with the high temps, I was less than enthusiastic about spending the night out in the bush.  The hike was beautiful, quiet and we had very little company.  We happened to meet a couple on the way to the falls and questioned them on the amount of water available.  Alas, with Southwest Missouri’s current drought conditions, there was not a drop to be had down Long Creek.  Not surprising and one of the reasons I brought plenty of water which will be important later.

Primitive Camping

Hercules Glade Taney County MO

This particular trail took about an hour and a half to hike to the falls.  The trail is moderate and switches between rocky to sandy with plenty of scenery of the Ozark hills in the distance.  There are primitive camping areas that have been well used in the past. One is located right above Long Creek and would have been perfect this past spring with the water rushing by, frogs singing and a good spot to possibly observe wildlife coming for a drink.  With the current conditions however, a fire would not have been advisable.  Hercules Glades has a fire tower, used in the past, for a reason.

Here is the link for the USDA website which has great information and a trail map:

Long Creek

Empty of all water and wildlife, Long Creek.

The trip to the falls was in a word, uneventful.  The trip back to the car, however, was a lesson in overconfidence I won’t soon forget.  Some of my readers know, I am not the most physically fit person.  I am working out more, hiking more and weight lifting more to try and get into better shape, but I have a long way to go.  My goal is to hike into Hemmed In Hollow in Arkansas next spring with as many members of the family I can con into going.  If I had tried that on this particular Sunday, I would have most likely ended up in the hospital.  Luckily, I have medical training and years of repeating First Aid through the Red Cross so I was able to monitor my symptoms as Cole and I hiked out.  I tried to rest and drink water as I felt my heart rate increase, perspiration slowly decrease and my muscles begin to want to cramp.  I was headed for heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

With each ridge I slowed a little more and rested a little longer.  I knew I was in a little trouble when my heart rate beat a tattoo very hard into my throat right next to my jugular.  I’m sure it was plainly visible. Cole monitored me as well and waited patiently each time I had to take a break.  I ate a little Gardetto’s Snack Mix to gain some salt back into my system as I knew to stop sweating was very dangerous.  Luckily, I had brought enough water along for the entire hike but I had not brought any snacks this time.  Bad idea.   A little sugar and a little salt would have helped the situation.  I won’t forget again.  Sometimes we can underestimate our bodies’ needs especially when mixed with extreme weather conditions.  I did find myself feeling sorry for military personnel who have to hike every day with gear on their backs in all sorts of weather without falling over in a dead faint.

I warned Cole to watch for signs of confusion, the aura before a seizure, clammy skin and a faint heartbeat.  Branson has the closest hospital down Hwy 76 and an ambulance could have been brought into play as they are staged at various spots throughout the county, had I needed it.

As I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I realized I was not quite as ready for hiking this far on a hot summer day as I had expected myself to be.  After all, I consider myself fairly healthy.  I work long hours and come home and work more.  I am outside some, but not a lot and I believe this was the key difference.  I was unused to the demands my body made while combining exertion and heat.  It was a good lesson.  Cole took it well.  He got the car cooled down quickly while I drank warm 7Up for the salt and potassium it contained.  We stopped at a gas station for Gatorade and beef jerky, both helping with the electrolytes I needed to recover.

So get out there outdoor enthusiasts and newbie outdoor enthusiasts…just be careful.  Know when you are in trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help, take lots of water and a few snacks!

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Hiking Ha Ha Tonka State Park

316 steps 200 feet down

Spring trail is looking a little wet today-maybe next time

Once a wealthy businessman’s dream getaway, now a ruin surrounded by the karst topography Missouri is famous for, Ha Ha Tonka State Park reminds us that you can’t take it with you.  Sandstone ruins once accessible for photo ops, but now cordoned off for safety sit at the top of a bluff overlooking the southern end of Lake of the Ozarks.  Beautiful any time of year, but especially in the fall, Ha Ha Tonka is worth the drive and the effort to hike one of its many trails.

Those poor mules

Sandstone dream home on the ridge overlooking Lake of the Ozarks

An hour and a half northeast of Springfield, the easiest way I have found is Hwy 65 to Hwy 73 just north of Buffalo and a right on Hwy 54 and down Missouri Hwy D.  The park has a visitor’s center, 13 trails rated from easy to rugged including Spring Trail with 316 wooden steps ascending 200 vertical feet.  I recommend you skip this trail if you are having knee surgery any time in the near future (or have had it in the recent past!)  This is one of my favorite trails, as it takes you right down to the spring which pours more than 48 million gallons of water daily into the lake.  There was once a mill located on the river flowing from the spring and you can still find the old grist millstone on the trail.  Worth a look is the Island trail which is rated rugged and takes about 30 minutes in addition to the Spring Trail.

My son, Cole and I headed up on a Friday around lunch time to find the parking lot of the Castle Trail full of people from as far away as Texas and South Dakota.  We chose the Quarry Trail this time around as it had been raining a lot lately, making the Spring Trail a possible disappointment.  Having never taken this particular trail, I was excited to see something new; the rock formations, wildlife and open meadows we passed through did not disappoint.  We took Cole’s dog, Balto, along for the trip and managed to keep him from pulling us down any cliffs in his enthusiasm to become one with nature.  Not any easy task with a one year old Husky.  A well-mannered dog (as well as children) for some trails is a must.  The trail was wet and I was grateful I had worn hiking shoes as Cole kept slipping in his trainers.  Of course, Balto’s instinctual pulling increased Cole’s odds of falling on his butt or his face.

Water, water everywhere

Springtime in Missouri means extra socks in your backpack

Turkey Pen Hollow Trail is a little over six miles and offers three primitive camping areas for those interested in staying in the park a little longer.  Reservations for this area are required-same day reservations April-October and one week in advance November-March.  I attempted to make reservations for the primitive campsites on the Missouri State Park website (, but that was unsuccessful so I called the park office at (573) 346-2986 and the employee who returned my phone call stated that they gladly make reservations but require a few days’ notice.  He asked me to leave a voicemail for what date(s) I wanted and they would make sure everything was ready as well as return the phone call to confirm.

Off the trail

Off track-a perfect example of the karst topography Missouri is famous for

I was grateful the trail blazes were visible on this particular trail; there were a few places it would have been easy to get turned around.  I was not worried about becoming lost here as there were quite a few people visiting the park, but I have been on the Devils’ Kitchen Trail with no sign of any other hikers and I did become lost on that particular day.  Again, a good compass, water and some food go a long way to making a day hike an enjoyable experience so get out there!

Let me know where your favorite place to hike is located in the comments section!

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

My Favorite Springfield Hiking Spot

High water at Ritter Springs north of Springfield MO

High water rushes through Ritter Springs North of Springfield MO

Want a great hike close to Springfield?  Grab a water bottle and a snack and check out Ritter Springs Park on the northwest side of the city!

Ritter Springs has been a favorite spot of mine since about 1991.  Back then, my good friend, Cheryl, introduced me to the unmarked trails in the park and I’ve been hiking there ever since.  I was married there in 1994 and my daughter was married there in 2016.  The Springfield area has many great hiking spots including The Springfield Nature Conservation Center, Galloway Trail, Frisco Highline Trail, and Sac River Trail, but Ritter is my favorite.

Now Ritter Springs plays host to summer camps for kids every year, so I generally tend to hike there in the fall and spring.  It’s a short drive north on Hwy 13, just follow the signs for Fantastic Caverns and then turn right on Farm Road 129, following the signs.  There is a great play area for the kids, BBQ grills, a full size cannon, and archery area when first entering the park.

There is a pavilion available for rent and access is granted for those with your party. The area also has a flag pole, restrooms, sand volleyball area and seating for quite a large group of people.  Parking is available as well.   The Springfield Parkboard ( office will give you a key to the lock on the swinging gate and you are all set for a family reunion, Scout event, or wedding.

Rounding the bend at Ritter Springs Springfield MO

Ritter Springs offers great hiking opportunities for families and pets.

Lots of water at Ritter Springs Springfield MO

Rushing water over the dam at Ritter Springs

Ritter Springs is also connected to the Sac River Mountain Bike Trail, David C Murray Park and Fulbright Spring Greenway Trail, making it part of a much larger trail system if you are interested in an all day hike or bike ride.  Mountain bikes are allowed on the graveled and paved trails in Ritter Springs, but not on the hiking paths.

30 years ago, you could cross the stream by way of a huge tree that had fallen over and bridged the span.  Cheryl would get right up and walk across, but with my fear of heights, falling, snakes and getting wet, I sat on my butt and shimmied across like an inchworm.  Took longer, but I never fell into the stream, and Cheryl got her entertainment for the day.   Evidence of other attempts at bridging the span are evident if you hike at Ritter enough and there are always smaller downed trees crossing the water for the more daring hikers.

WARNING:  There are plenty of opportunities for young children to get very wet at Ritter Springs so make sure you keep an eye on them.

Snakes of SWMO Ritter Springs Springfield MO

This is a non venomous snake. Notice the round eyes and lack of wide head. Possible Diamond Back Watersnake

Pavilion at Ritter Springs Springfield MO

Lots of opportunities for large groups at Ritter Springs north of Springfield MO

Wildlife is plentiful at Ritter depending on the time of year and day that you visit.  On the last time I took a 90 minute hike, I spotted a redheaded woodpecker, yellow finches, turtles, snakes and other more common birds.  Turkeys had left evidence of recent passing as well.  I have seen copperhead snakes on the trails in the spring, trying to warm themselves in the sunny patches, so be alert especially with your four footed companions.   Though close to the city, Ritter is generally quiet with most noise coming from families with young children and dogs loudly getting to know each other.

What I like most about Ritter is that depending on your mood and energy level, you can get in a nice quiet stroll down the paths, or an intense workout by following the gravel drive, passing the pavilion, crossing the bridge and going to your right and up the ridge.  The park closes at sunset, so make sure you’ve left plenty of time to find your way back to the parking lot, especially in the fall.  Ritter has plenty of hilly terrain, caves, and water to keep anyone who likes nature looking forward to the next bend.

Sunny days, lazy ways

Watching for turtles is a great way to get kids interested in the outdoors.

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!