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  1. #1
    SwinginIt's Avatar
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    Where to go near Branson, MO?

    I'm heading to Branson the first of Sept and am looking for somewhere nearby to do an overnighter. Backpacking, not a campground. Fishing would be nice but not necessary. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Flounder's Avatar
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    Hercules Glades Wilderness.

  3. #3
    SwinginIt's Avatar
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    Great, thanks! Do you recommend starting at any particular trailhead?
    "As a well spent day brings happy sleep, a well spent life brings happy death." -Da Vinci

  4. #4
    Senior Member BurningCedar's Avatar
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    I second Flounder's recommendation. Hercules Glades is one of my favorite backpacking loops.

    The Coy Bald trail head is my favorite and is closest to Branson. It's also VERY difficult to find if you've never been there before as the turnoff sign was destroyed in a flood a few years back and was never replaced.

    The Fire Tower trail head is almost as nice and is well marked. It's on the east side of the wilderness.

    Bring a compass and a good map as the trails are poorly marked (no blazes and only a few crossings are marked). Also bring water. Long's Creek runs through the middle of the area; but in this drought we're having it's almost surely dry except for a few stagnant puddles on the west side of the wilderness.
    David

    The road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.
    -Frodo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

  5. #5
    SwinginIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurningCedar View Post
    I second Flounder's recommendation. Hercules Glades is one of my favorite backpacking loops.

    The Coy Bald trail head is my favorite and is closest to Branson. It's also VERY difficult to find if you've never been there before as the turnoff sign was destroyed in a flood a few years back and was never replaced.

    The Fire Tower trail head is almost as nice and is well marked. It's on the east side of the wilderness.

    Bring a compass and a good map as the trails are poorly marked (no blazes and only a few crossings are marked). Also bring water. Long's Creek runs through the middle of the area; but in this drought we're having it's almost surely dry except for a few stagnant puddles on the west side of the wilderness.
    So I should expect no usable water sources? How is the terrain? From what I can tell it looks like there isn't a whole lot of major elevation changes, at least the loops I was looking at. What about nightly temps?
    "As a well spent day brings happy sleep, a well spent life brings happy death." -Da Vinci

  6. #6
    Senior Member BurningCedar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwinginIt View Post
    So I should expect no usable water sources? How is the terrain? From what I can tell it looks like there isn't a whole lot of major elevation changes, at least the loops I was looking at. What about nightly temps?
    Unfortunately, the only water source in the entire wilderness is Long Creek and a few smaller runoffs that are only wet after a rain. I haven't been there yet this year; but even in the best of years the upper reaches of Long Creek (near the fire tower) at this time of year is typically dry. In year's past, the lower reaches (near Coy Bald) generally have some standing or running water. But we're experiencing a near-record level drought this year, so I wouldn't plan on any water except what you bring.

    The terrain has some ups-and-downs; but is not terribly demanding. There are a series of gorgeous small waterfalls on Long Creek after a rain and some really neat views from the glades at the top of the various balds in the area. I really like how the various trails are arranged so that you can create an almost infinite variety of trail loops.

    Its been an especially weird year for weather; mostly scorching hot all summer! But things seem to be starting to moderate a bit. You can check the weather forecast by checking on Kissee Mills

    If you need a hike with a more reliable source of water, then you might check out Devils Backbone Wilderness Area. Its a bit farther away; but it follows the North Fork River which is always reliable and has several reliable but small springs in the area. Overall I don't like it quite as much as Hercules. If you do go there, I'd personally avoid the middle east-west trail in summer (Mary Hollow and Crooked Creek) as it tends to get overgrown and very, very muggy. The other trails are quite pleasant.

    Almost a close as Devils Backbone would be the various trails along the Buffalo River in Arkansas. The Buffalo will be flowing very slowly and low right now; but should still be a very reliable water source.

    Good luck and have fun!
    David

    The road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.
    -Frodo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

  7. #7
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    Current river, ozark national riverways, is all you need to know.

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