Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Short Loop

Castle on the bluff

The trail on this page explores a good sampling of the extensive karst topography of Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The trail curves through the Devils Kitchen, a remote feeling area of undercut cliffs and a rock house/natural bridge, then follows a shoreline section of Ha Ha Tonka spring and ends with a traverse of the Colosseum and an enormous natural bridge.

Ha Ha Tonka is a place of long views and intricate scenery. There is an amazing mix of cultural and natural elements to explore. This is a park worth visiting many times - the hike on this page is just a sample of what you will find there!

From the junction of Missouri Hwy 7 and Interstate Hwy 54 northeast of Camdenton Missouri, drive 3.1 miles southwest to Missouri Hwy D.
Turn left and drive southeast 0.4 miles on Hwy D to Bumper Hill Rd.
Take a right to stay on Hwy D, then drive 1.9 miles southeast to Turkey Pen Ct on your right, which is the entrance to the parking lot for the hike.
Coordinates for the hike: 37.9738700,-92.7625440
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The paved parking lot is large and a bit tilted. Their is an informational kiosk adjacent to the parking lot and no other amenites. There are flush toilets available at the visitor center 0.4 miles north on Hwy D.
Trail observations
The trail leaves the parking lot near the kiosk. The trail is paved for a few feet after the first junction, then turns to gravel and dirt, with frequent rocky extrusions. Walking the Devils Kitchen section of the hike can be tough at times due to the slippery rock surfaces along some parts of the path.
There is one place along the trail that made my ten year old son nervous as it involved a step across a gap a bit larger than he could comfortably make. There are metal handholds at the spot that probably would have helped if we had crossed the section a bit differently.
After the Devils Kitchen the trail climbs a ridge to a paved road that runs along Ha Ha Tonka spring. Follow the big white footprints painted on the pavement to reach the continuation of the trail on the far side.
The hike descends to the water level in the spring, follows a short walk on a paved path along the spring, then ascends via a long series of fun wooden staircases. From there the hike descends into the Colosseum and under the natural bridge, then loops back to cross over the natural bridge to the Turkey Pen parking lot.
Trail statistics
The trail is 2.66 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 381 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.05 miParking Parking Lot
0.16 miTrailheadTrailhead
0.26 miRight on redGo right and stay on the red trail
0.34 miGo rightJunction - go right on the Devil's Kitchen Trail
0.94 miGo straightCross the dirt road to the trail on the far side
1.08 miStay rightBranch - stay right
1.10 miFollow footprintsFollow the white footprints on the pavement
1.16 miDown stairsHead down the stairs
1.17 miTee leftTee - go left
1.29 miKeep rightBranch - keep right to go straight
1.44 miSharp rightAt the bottom, go right along the paved trail
1.79 miClimb stairsScenic but strenous sign
1.97 miOverlookScenic overlook into huge sinkhole
2.05 miTee rightHead right along the blue trail
2.10 miBranch leftFollow the left branch up the rocks - yellow blazes
2.46 miCurve leftCurve left up the steps into the picnic area
2.52 miTee leftHead left across the natural bridge
2.61 miCross roadCross the road to the parking lot
2.66 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - Short Loop
Altitude chart - Short Loop Parking Go right Stay right Follow footprints Tee left Overlook Tee right Tee left Cross road End of trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: Canyon
Terrain: Hilly
Trail surface: Boardwalk
Trail surface: Dirt
Trail surface: Gravel
Trail surface: Paved
Trail surface: Rock
Type: Loop
View: Enclosed
View: Overlooks
View: Shoreline
View: Wooded
County: Camden County
State: Missouri
Country: United States of America
Missouri State Parks site (Check out the video!)
Conceptual map (PDF)
Excellent and thorough blog post about the park
Another excellent writeup
Printable trail map in PDF format (33 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (5 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
Trails in the surrounding area
Trailheads for Kansas Missouri, and Oklahoma (No additional trails)
Trailheads for Illinois and Missouri (No additional trails)
Trailheads for Arkansas Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma (1 additional trail)
Trailheads for Arkansas Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee (1 additional trail)