Ha Ha Tonka State Park is only a 2 hour drive from Kansas City, and yet was a place I had never even heard of. Now that I’ve been and subsequently fallen in love, I’m giving you the low down! Here’s everything you need to know to visit Ha Ha Tonka State Park, including how to get there, popular trails, what to see and more!
Visiting Ha Ha Tonka State Park
About Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Long before Ha Ha Tonka was a state park, it began with a castle. Robert McClure Snyder, Sr., a Kansas City businessman, began constructing the castle in 1905 after first seeing the area in 1903. The name Ha Ha Tonka refers to the spring and is said to mean “smiling waters.”
Snyder died in an auto accident in 1906, so his sons completed the castle in the 1920’s. The family used the property as a summer home for several years until the castle burned in a 1942 fire.
In 1978, Missouri purchased the castle and surrounding grounds, turning it into a park. While the castle is too unstable to explore, visitors can admire from a distance. Some additional highlights of the park include the natural bridge, caves (closed to the public due to COVID) and natural spring.
How to Get to Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park is located in Camdenton, Missouri. If you’re traveling from 54 highway, turn onto Missouri D and follow it to Natural Bridge Road. Don’t worry about skipping the Visitor’s Center; it’s not located near any trails and is only worth a stop if you need a map or would like to ask questions.
What You’ll Need to Hike Ha Ha Tonka State Park
The trails at Ha Ha Tonka are very well paved and maintained, so your standard tennis shoes will work just fine no matter which path you take. And of course, the usual for any outdoor hike; water, a snack, sunscreen and (depending on the weather) bug spray.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park Trails
There are so many trail options when you visit Ha Ha Tonka. If you want to see the highlights, you’ll want to focus on the castle, natural bridge, and spring. All are very short and easy to hike, not to mention there are parking lots at the start of each trail. If hiking isn’t your thing, Ha Ha Tonka can ease you into it.
This isn’t to say that avid hikers wouldn’t enjoy themselves here. The commonly recommended Turkey Pen Hollow Trail is a moderate 6.7 mile hike that takes you into the forest side of the park. If you love a long trek, you’re in luck.
What to know before you go
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Pin visiting Ha Ha Tonka State Park in the Fall