5 Best stops for Fall Colors at the Lake

Lake Sun Leader

As the sights and sounds of the “hootie” owls, the frogs, the locust and the cricket songs disappear as the summer fades into fall, it’s time to enjoy the beauty of fall at Lake of the Ozarks.  Take a day to get out and become a “leaf peeper,” generally characterized as folks gazing at the colorful landscapes as they make their way to around the lake checking out the fall color knowing that no two leaves are ever the same. 

Two years ago USA Today recognized the area for one of its many charms: the autumn colors. The Lake of the Ozarks was voted the second-best place in the country for viewing fall foliage, officially confirming what many locals already knew: there's nothing like autumn in the Ozarks.

The area is beautiful in any season, but in the fall it really shines. The landscape around the Lake of the Ozarks features many rolling hills, scenic overlooks and expansive views of the water, all offering wonderful glimpses of the thick hardwood forests that abound in the region and turn vivid shades of orange, red and yellow each fall.

The peak of the fall colors at the Lake of the Ozarks typically occurs in mid- to late-October when the maples, ashes, oaks, and hickories are at the height of their fall display. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the peak season varies from year to year depending on the weather and can last until early November. 

There are numerous ways to enjoy colors around the Lake of the Ozarks, by land and on-the-water. 

Here are a few of our favorites:


1. The area's two state parks feature numerous walking and hiking trails that traverse hardwood forests, glades, meadows and offer wonderful views of the Lake of the Ozarks. Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Missouri's largest and most visited state park, boasts 14 different trails while Ha Ha Tonka State Park has 12 unique trails. Both parks offer a variety of trails that range in ease and difficulty, from paved walking trails to rugged cross-country treks. A much-photographed location is the old Post Office at HaHa Tonka is the Gunter Post Office was established in 1872 and operated until it was closed in 1937. In 1895 the name was changed to HaHa Tonka Post Office. 

2. Three miles east of Montreal on State Road E &/or A, Toronto Springs on the Wet Glaize is pleasant to visit in any season. Fall gives the visitor the advantage to view the lay of the land, and see more of the winding spring. Today’s visitors to Toronto Springs State Conservation Area have the same opportunity to relish the essence and freshness of the area as did the early 1850′s citizens of the town of Toronto. John Harrold built his Mill at the spring and the Wet Glaize Creek just below the town of Toronto (once called Harroldtown). At one time the area had a drug store, doctor’s office, livery and blacksmith, a place to dine, a photographer, post office, and a saloon. The town had a feather mattress factory and lead was mined in the vicinity.

3. Thunder Mountain Park at Bridal Cave, just north of Camdenton is a great place to check out fall color. You can check out the view of the Big Niangua Arm of the lake.You may catch glimpses of an abundance of wildlife.  Sightings are often reported of whitetail deer, bald eagles, turkeys, red foxes, squirrels, and groundhogs.  It is very accurate to describe a trip here as a back to nature experience that is reminiscent of the Ozark Mountains as they were decades ago.  In the center of Thunder Mountain Park is the Thunder Mountain Conservation Area. This spot is operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation. There is a visitor center, a nature trail and picnic facilities.

4. The Scenic Overlook of Lake of the Ozarks and Bagnell Dam off Union Electric Rd. in Lake Ozark is worth the drive no matter where you are coming from. The view is truly amazing and you can check out the markers with information about the construction of the lake. There’s even an old turbine from the dam on display. There’s plenty of parking and a few picnic tables. 

5. No list of places to see color would be complete without mentioning getting out on the  water to view the colors along the bluffs. We recommend booking one of the cruises offered by the Celebration and Tropic Islands. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy the scenery.


Contributors: Norine Albers, Joyce L. Miller and Beenders Marketing Group 

Information on Thunder Mountain Park provided by http://bridalcave.blogspot.com/