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Missouri State Parks

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USA Parks
Southwest Region
Ruth and Paul Hennings State Forest
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The Ruth and Paul Hennings State Forest is a serene natural haven that offers visitors a picturesque retreat in the heart of the state. This enchanting forest encompasses over 1,600 acres of lush woodlands, encompassing meandering creeks, dense foliage, and diverse wildlife. With its well-maintained trails, it provides excellent opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography. The forest's peaceful ambiance, combined with its stunning vistas and tranquil atmosphere, makes it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking solace amidst nature's beauty.
History of the Area
Ruth and Paul Henning State Forest is a public forest located in the Ozarks region of southwestern Missouri, near the city of Branson. The forest is named in honor of Ruth and Paul Henning, a couple who played a significant role in promoting and preserving the natural beauty of the Missouri Ozarks.

In the mid-20th century, the region surrounding Branson was primarily rural and known for its picturesque landscapes. The area attracted many tourists due to its natural beauty, but it was relatively undeveloped at that time. Ruth Henning, an artist, and her husband Paul, a writer and actor, fell in love with the Ozarks and decided to make it their home.

In the 1950s, the Hennings moved to the Ozarks and became passionate advocates for the preservation of the region's natural environment. Paul Henning, in particular, became a prominent figure in the Ozarks' conservation efforts. He wrote numerous articles and books, highlighting the region's unique flora and fauna, and the importance of preserving its ecosystems.

In the 1960s, Paul Henning's work gained nationwide recognition through his creation of the popular television show "The Beverly Hillbillies." The show depicted the fictional exploits of a rural Ozarks family that struck it rich and moved to Beverly Hills.

Using the wealth and influence gained from the show's success, the Hennings purchased large tracts of land in Taney County, Missouri, with the goal of preserving the natural beauty of the Ozarks. They owned several ranches and forests, including what is now the Ruth and Paul Henning State Forest.

After Paul Henning's passing in 2005, Ruth Henning continued to be actively involved in environmental conservation efforts. She focused on reforestation and the preservation of natural habitats.

In 2014, the Missouri Department of Conservation acquired the majority of Ruth and Paul Henning's forested properties, including their ranch and the areas that now constitute the state forest. The state forest was established to honor the couple's contributions to the preservation of the Ozarks and to provide educational and recreational opportunities for the public.

The Ruth and Paul Henning State Forest spans over 1,534 acres and offers various outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. It serves as a testament to the Hennings' legacy and their dedication to preserving the natural beauty of the Ozarks for future generations to enjoy.
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Ruth and Paul Hennings State Forest is located near Branson, Springfield

1. Hennings Trail: This is the main trail in Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area, stretching over 5 miles long. It's a moderately difficult loop that offers scenic views of Branson cityscape, Roark Creek Valley, and Lake Taneycomo.

2. Glade Loop Trail: A shorter route at just under one mile; this easy-to-navigate path takes hikers through beautiful glades filled with native wildflowers during springtime.

3. Streamside Trail: As its name suggests, it follows along the banks of Roark Creek for about half a mile before looping back to join up with other trails within the forest area.

4. Lookout Ridge Trails (North & South): These two separate but connected paths offer panoramic vistas from atop high ridges overlooking Ozarks' landscapes below - each approximately 0-75-mile-long offering moderate difficulty level due to steep inclines on certain sections.

5. White Oak Sinkhole Pond Nature Walk: An educational walkway designed specifically for children or those interested in learning more about Missouri's natural history while hiking - includes interpretive signs detailing local flora/fauna found around an ancient sinkhole pond ecosystem.

6. Homesteaders' Hollow Interpretative Path: Another short nature-focused pathway featuring information boards explaining early settlers' life who once lived here centuries ago.

7. Dew Drop Spring Access Route: Provides access point towards hidden springs deep inside woods where wildlife sightings are common occurrences - suitable only experienced trekkers given rugged terrain conditions present throughout most parts thereof.

8. Bald Knobbers Hill Climb Challenge Track: For adventure seekers looking test their physical endurance limits by climbing uphill non-stop until reaching summit located nearly thousand feet above sea-level.

9. Whispering Pines Picnic Spot Connector Waypoint Link-Up Course: Connects various picnic spots scattered across different corners via interconnected network pathways allowing visitors enjoy leisurely strolls between meal breaks without having venture too far off main routes.

10. Wild Turkey Roost Overlook Point Trail: Leads towards secluded viewing platform offering bird's eye view over entire forest canopy where wild turkeys often seen roosting during early morning hours or late evenings. .

11. Sunset Viewpoint Extension Pathway: Ends at a cliff edge facing westwards, making it the perfect spot to watch breathtaking sunsets unfold across horizon line after day-long hiking expeditions.

12. Butterfly Meadow Circular Walk: A gentle 0-5-mile loop that takes you through an open meadow filled with butterflies and other pollinators in summer months - ideal for families with young children due its easy accessibility features plus low difficulty level overall.

13. Pawpaw Grove Shortcut Link-Up Course: Short bypass route cutting across dense pawpaw tree groves connecting two major trails together thereby reducing total travel distance significantly when planning longer treks within this state-owned conservation area property boundaries.

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1. Start by getting on I:55 S from Market Street.
2. Continue driving on I:55 S for approximately 60 miles until you reach Exit 174B to merge onto US-67 S toward Bonne Terre/Farmington.
3. Stay on US:67 S for about 30 miles until you reach MO-D/State Hwy D exit toward Leadington/Bonne Terre/Park Hills.
4. Take a left turn onto MO:D/State Hwy D and continue straight for around 5 miles.
5. Next, take a right turn onto Berry Road/MO:FE E (signs will indicate "Ruth & Paul Henning Conservation Area").
6. Continue following this road for approximately another mile or so until you arrive at your destination.

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Missouri State Parks