Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Branson Waterfall Trail Adventures

This time of year is pretty much my favorite for outdoorsy things. It's been in the low 70s, so I know I won't be freezing, but I can also be fairly certain I won't die of heat exhaustion. I've been craving some hiking trail time lately since I've been in a bit of a creative funk (as well as a kind of weird mood in general). Seriously, if you're short on inspiration, a good walk somewhere quiet and beautiful can work wonders, especially if you spend as much time at home in front of a computer screen as I do.

While running some errands in Branson last month, I noticed a sign at an intersection that read "Parking for Waterfall Trail" with an arrow. Waterfall trail? I thought I knew all of the fun outdoorsy places for a walk in the woods in this town! I came home, did some research, and found that there's a trail that begins near the Westgate Branson Woods Resort, just off of Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. It was created less than a year ago, which I guess explains why I never knew about it. Almost every site I found listed a different length, but it seems to be somewhere close to 1.5 miles round trip.

I've been out on this trail twice so far (the first time I didn't have enough time to do the full thing), so the photos below are a compilation from both days. They're also a mix of regular camera and cell phone pics, so the quality isn't always great, but at least you get the idea. Also, I have NO idea why photos are refusing to center align. I even had my handsome web designer friend peek at my CSS and he ended up a bit stumped, too. The solution is probably a redesign, but ain't nobody got time for that. Until then, sorry that every-frickin'-thing is aligned left. I know it's not as aesthetically pleasing, but it's easier. 

Anyway! The trail. There are a couple of parking spaces set up for trail users so that you don't have to go through the security gate at the resort. If you're familiar with the old charcoal plant, the parking is on the same road.

I snapped this from the parking spot. The trail begins between the two telephone poles on the left. 

I was impressed by all the signage!

The first section of the trail is open and airy. (I stopped to pose for a pic with that flowering tree, but was attacked by bees. Oops.)

Soon, the trail dips down a hill towards the creek. It was fairly warm both days I went out, so I was pretty happy to discover that once I was down by the water, the temperature dropped several degrees. 

Not sure what's wrong with these leaves, but they're rad. 

I considered recreating a "Dirty Dancing" moment on this tree across the stream of water.

Again, love all the signs! Basically anywhere that there could possibly be confusion, there was a sign or marker to point you the right way.

First water crossing! You can either try to balance on those rocks down at the lower left, or just plunge in and get your shoes wet.  I tended to just hop in the water since it's fairly shallow and my trail shoes are waterproof.

I love this little trail marker, but this is the only one I spotted along the way. They either haven't put many up yet, they need to be more visible, or I'm way too busy thinking about things to notice them.

Trees: I like them.

For pretty much the entire trail, you have the creek/stream/whatever it is to one side, and this large rocky hill on the other. It's kind of reassuring to know that if you happen to lose the trail, you can at least know if you're going the right direction.

Aforementioned stream/creek/body of water. 

Best bridge ever? Yep, pretty much. I'm not sure what compelled someone to build this majestic creation over this squishy bit of trail (and not all the other precarious bits), but I think we can all agree that it's a masterpiece. 

This is one of the few spots where I stopped and seriously wondered for a minute if I was still on the trail. (I was. Yay!)

I may have made out with this sign. (Not too much tongue.)

So, let's be honest- the actual waterfall at the end of the trail isn't exactly anything to write home about. (Although I guess it qualifies as something to blog about?) Still, it's a nice little "You made it!" landmark to end the trail with, and an equally nice spot to sit and chill for a few minutes before turning around and heading back. 

This is what happens when I try to use my phone to get a picture of me in front of the waterfall. Feel free to buy me a phone with a camera I can actually SEE.

This is the view if you're facing away from the falls. Not exactly secluded. I definitely had a moment of "You mean I just spent half an hour getting here, but the people staying at that resort can just walk out to that overlook? LAME."

I stopped along one of the big rock formations along the way to tweet the photo below with a note about possibly being eaten by bears. It was only after getting home and looking at Twitter that I noticed you can't even begin to tell WTF I'm standing in front of. Well played, self. Well played.

Of course, Katie took my bear tweet to remind me of one of the mottos of the Adventurers Club: "Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you, but always come dressed for the hunt." Kungaloosh!

Dear shoes, sorry about all the mud. But thanks for actually being waterproof! (Just realized that I left these in my car after peeling them off yesterday. I bet it smells awesome in there by now.)

Going back uphill is never quite as much fun.

I was out on the trail for a total of about an hour, but that includes quite a bit of time spent stopping to take photos and tweeting things about bears. This may now be my favorite trail in the area. It's easy enough that most people of average fitness can do it, but there's enough leaping over things and balancing on rocks to cross water to make you feel like a bit of a badass adventurer. Just be sure to bring water and wear shoes that you don't mind getting muddy and wet.

If I get a chance to do this trail again before it becomes Summer and the temperature raises to a billion degrees, I'll vlog it for your amusement. There are at least two other trails I want to go check out before then, though, so who knows if I'll actually get to it! Fingers crossed. 


Katie said...

I'm glad you didn't get 'et by a bear!! Looks like a gorgeous day. :)

Kaeley said...

It may not be much, but that waterfall is beautiful! Stopping by from 20SB...