For all the hikers, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a gem worth visiting. Located in the Lakes Region of Missouri near Lake of the Ozarks there are natural features, outdoor activities, water recreation, and numerous trails for the hiker.
What caught my eye when looking at Missouri state parks was the castle ruins located within the park. While hiking by the ruins, the history jumps out at you!!
In 1903, a wealthy Kansas City businessman envisioned building a castle that has 60 rooms with a center atrium that rises 3 1/2 stories up to a skylight with a water tower, greenhouses and stables. Material was extracted from a sandstone quarry and transported by a mule-drawn wagon and a miniature railroad.
Construction began in 1905 and was halted in 1906 with the death of Snyder in one of the states first automobile accidents. His sons finish the structure in 1922 with a less elaborate plan. The castle overlooked a ‘small’ spring-fed lake.
In the 1920’s, the Snyder sons fought to stop Bagnell Dam from being built but they failed. The result was that the Lake of the Ozarks was developed which divided the estate property.
Later on, the property became pa hotel. In 1942, chimney sparks ignited the roof and the castle and carriage house was gutted. In 1976, vandals burned the water tower. Only the ruins remain which hikers can walk up to but cannot walk into due to their instability.
There are 20 caves (which are closed to the public), sinkholes, springs, and natural bridges. There is a Colosseum which is a theater like sinkhole. Whispering Dell Sink has 2 bluff shelters and 3 caves ( Counterfeiters Cave, Robber’s Cave and Bear’s Cave). These caves were hideouts by criminals in the 1830’s.
A collapse of a giant cavern created a gorge- setting up a spring that dumps 48 million gallons of water daily that flows into the Lake of the Ozarks.
Besides the Castle ruins, there are trails, backpack camping, picnic areas, fishing, and boating. There are 13 different trails. They range from .2 mile to 6.5 miles. Half of the trails are a moderate terrain while the others are rugged. The hiking time for the trails from 10 minutes to 6 1/2 hours. Trails and boardwalks make it easy for hikers.
If you are a Missourian traveling the state or a traveler visiting Lake of the Ozarks, it is worth the trip to Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton. Enjoy the hiking and the other outdoor activities!!