Perception is partly a function of expectation. After reading other reviews that said these trails weren't that hard even though some where identified as "difficult" by the Missouri Department of Conservation, I was expecting some tree roots and occasional, gentle inclines and declines. What I found were plenty of tree roots, stretches of very rocky trail, and while the overall incline/decline may not have been huge, it was noticeable.
Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed my hike at Henning CA. I hiked all the trails, starting with the paved .4 mile Dewey Bald Trail to the observation tower. While the trail climbs the entire way to the tower, it isn't a terribly steep incline, plus the smoothly paved trail makes this one relatively easy. As another reviewer said, though, I would NOT want to be in a wheelchair on this trail. Climb the 55 steps to the top of the tower for an interesting view of the surrounding area.
After a quick stop at the privy - which definitely smelled like a privy in mid-July but got the job done - I made my way to the viewing platform where the 1.1 mile Glade Trail departs.
I followed the first half or so of the Glade Trail to where it connects to the .4 mile Streamside Trail; went right on the Streamside Trail to Shane's Shortcut (a .3 mile connector to the 3.4 mile Homesteader's Trail) and then did the entire Homesteader's loop before returning to Shane's Shortcut to reconnect to the rest of the Streamside Trail and from there to the last half of the Glade Trail.
Other reviewers have written well about plants and wildlife you might see here, so I won't repeat. I especially recommend the review written by Greenfireflygirl.
Be aware that some areas of the trails require rather significant steps up or down - 15 inches or more - so I strongly recommend a trusty hiking stick. Some parts of the trail, especially the Glade Trail, have medium-sized rock which I find difficult to walk on. Gravel is small enough to crunch together beneath my boots, and large rocks are big enough to step from one to another. But this rock, anywhere from 2 to 6 inches and NOT flat, provides a workout for your ankles. Be warned.
Ruth and Paul Henning did a wonderful thing when they left this land to the Conservation Department. Whether you hike all the trails or just one, whether you start at the Homesteader's Trail access on Noland Road or simply enjoy the view from the viewing deck off of Hwy 76, you will not regret visiting this beautiful area.
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