Initially was drawn here to see the ruins of the "castle", only to find out it was just someone's mansion from like the 1940s that burnt down in the 1970s. Not saying it's not interesting to dream that could have been my home, but just not worth it to me (I was hoping for like 1800s, true history in my opinion). the "castle" is handicap accessible.
What was well worth it, and very well deserving of 5 stars are the trails and the natural beauty of the park.
There's a large natural bridge that you can easily walk under (the trail goes right through it). It was very tall and beautiful hidden within the woods. The bridge is right off the main road (Hwy D, I think it was), only maybe like 20 feet in.
There's a spring. I had never seen a spring before and guess I just figured it wouldn't be anything than just some water, like a creek, no big deal. But was I ever wrong! It was absolutely beautiful! The bright blue of the water, Super clear, even my crappy camera phone could take pictures of it - seeing straight through it. You walk on one side to see it, and the other side is a very tall bluff (the one the "castle" is on) that just makes it even more beautiful.
There's an "island" (they call it an island, but I don't really think it is one). The trails on it on more challenging. If you go on the island trails you can get to the mouth of spring. Despite being busy the day we were there, no one else seemed to take the trail to go to it - but I thought it was well worth it. Once again, beautiful views of the spring and of where the spring feeds into the Lake of Ozarks. People were stepping into the spring here (it's fenced, you're not suppose to go in any further up near the source), and letting it's current sweep them into the Lake. We hiked the trails on the island along side the spring, or so we thought, it turned out to be a path (oops) to the island cave.
The cave on the island, not worth it. it's like a 2 foot opening, at best, with a large grate over the top of it. It's harder to get to, and isn't much to see. There's garbage & graffiti (sadly), and a grate with a sign next to that basically says, do not enter.
The path to where the spring comes out of the hill is a very easy (and handicap accessible) path. Beautiful once again. There's a 300 step or so staircase (a ridiculously large amount of stairs) to go up the hill. Beautiful views if you can make it up that high - it is a workout. And there's alot of fun facts about the park & how it was formed and it's natural formations.
Highly recommend the park for the spring and it's natural beauty.
I don't get the "castle", I think it's a bust.
The park was somewhat busy - the "castle" and the easily accessible trail to the spring were busy, but the actual trails through the park and oddly, the natural bridge (go see it!) were not.
Bring water! There's a bubbler (water fountain) by the "castle" but that's it.
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