Ha Ha Tonka State Park, MO

Well, we started off with a spring in our step. Going down the 316 stairs, we figured, was easier than going up and let me tell you right now – it was. The slow ascent back to the top, after walking all day was what wore us out. Oh, but it was worth it. We parked at the Castle, passed by the Tower, and wound our way around the rim of the canyon.

The sink hole is the first thing you see and it’s pretty cool with all the trees, roots up, looking like toothpicks, poking out from the bottom. The stairs led down, around, and sometimes up and on the side of the rock face. Descending the stairs was a reinforced lesson in perspective. With each step, the landscape changed and so did the temperature! By the time we got to the bottom it felt ten degrees cooler. The spring flows freely from the bottom of the rock face, turning into a stream, and flowing out into the Lake of the Ozarks. You can count the pebbles in the bottom, it’s so clear. Walking the path along the stream, you find a variety of unlikely things. The trail passes through a split boulder dubbed lover’s lane. Great spot by the way, but how in the world did any girl get down that hill in a dress??? There is a mid 20th century electric pump still in place to supply water to a cabin, that is long gone, on top of the hill. There is also an old mill stone marking the spot of one of the mills that used to stand over the water. But the spring itself, just keeps flowing.

The sound of rushing water surrounds you. Walking along the stream, there was no hurry and no schedule. We wandered, taking our time, and had a picnic lunch after hiking to the top of the island in the center of the stream. On the back side of the island, where the stream flows into a small inlet before spilling into the lake, we found our favorite spot. A place of quiet beauty, where the water stills and it feels like the trees surround you.