Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From the west side of Branson, take Highway 76 west 0.75 mile from the Highway 376/Highway 76 intersection. To access the Homesteaders Trail on the north end of the area, from the intersection of Highway 248 and Shepherd of the Hills Expressway in Branson, take Highway 248 north 3.70 miles, then Sycamore Log Church Road south 3.40 miles to a gravel parking lot adjacent to Roark Creek.


This area is made up of forest, woodland and glade habitat. Facilities/features: hiking trails, White River Balds Natural Area, and a permanent stream (Roark Creek).

About This Area

Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area is in the White River Hills of western Taney County on the west side of Branson.

Much of this 1,534-acre area consists of steep hills covered with typical upland oak/hickory forest. The forest is interspersed with a series of scenic glades (open desert-like areas), which make up the White River Balds Natural Area.

The area also includes a small section of bottomland forest along a one-half mile stretch of Roark Creek, a relatively undisturbed Ozark headwaters stream.

The glades or "balds," as local people refer to them, played an important role in the history and folklore of the region. Because post-Civil war vigilante groups often met on the balds, they became known as "baldknobbers."

Several features of the area were also immortalized in Harold Bell Wright's book, Shepherd of the Hills, including Dewey Bald, Boulder Bald, a portion of the "trail that is nobody knows how old," Sammy Lane's Lookout, The Signal Tree, and Little Pete's Cave.

Most of the area was donated or purchased from Ruth and Paul Henning. Paul is best known as the creator of the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction television series. It was their wish to keep this beautiful landscape for all to enjoy.


General Information




Owned by MDC

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List. Designated an Important Bird Area by Audubon Missouri.  
Exhibits/Displays  4 Kiosks - describes glade habitat 
Hiking  Several loop trails are on the area. 

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Parking Lotaccessible   
Viewing Deck/Tower    

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Designated Natural Area White River Balds Natural Area 362.00 acres For more information, visit natural areas.  
Stream - Intermittent  4.50 miles  
Stream - Permanent Roark Creek 0.60 miles  
Wildlife Watering Hole  0.10 acres  

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Glade 362.00  
Forest and Woodland 1172.00  
Total Area Acres:1534.00 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Homesteaders Trail (Difficult) Hiking (Interpretive) 3.40 
Glade Exploration Trail (Moderate) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 1.10 
Shane's Shortcut (Difficult) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.30 
Dewey Bald Trail (Moderate) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.40 
Streamside Trail (Moderate) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.40 

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Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

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