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Ha Ha Tonka

posted Oct 19, 2018, 4:12 PM by Justin P   [ updated Dec 9, 2018, 4:37 PM ]

Friday, Lil made us a delicious breakfast and we chatted with her for a while before taking off.  After packing up, our destination for the morning was Ha Ha Tonka State Park and we parked at the trailhead Ha Ha Tonka Oak Woodland Nature Area for Devil's Kitchen Trail.  It was lightly drizzling at this point but not too hard.  Heading out through the woods, we passed through an open glade and then back into the woods as the terrain became more rocky.  Soon, there was a crevice in the ground.

Past here, we came to the Devil's Kitchen, a shelter cave inside a sinkhole.

The crevice above was a chimney in the back of the cave shelter.  Continuing on the trail, we had to jump across a crack in the ground.

At this point, we had entered the Devil's Promenade, a massive concave bluff.

The trail then came out to the road near the old post office and crossed the street, heading down to lake level along the white connector.  A bridge crossed the shallow lake arm and we hiked the Island Trail.

The trail initially went up to the center of the island at Balancing Rock.

Past here it descended down towards the lake again where the water was a beautiful turquoise color.  The water cascaded over the ruins of an old dam.

Continuing on, the trail looped around the island.  I spotted some sulphur shelf mushrooms growing on a log.

We followed the trail around the island and back across, following Spring Trail to the Ha Ha Tonka spring.

The water came out of a cave and flowed into the lake, the source of the lovely turquoise water.  From here, we had to climb up a tall staircase up to the rim and followed Dell Rim Trail.

There was a parking lot here, and the Carriage House Ruins were right next to it.

We saw the other couple from Bridal Cave here and then an overlook to see down to Lake of the Ozarks and the island from earlier in our hike.

Just past here was the park's signature attraction - Ha Ha Tonka castle.

Built in the early 20th century, it had been destroyed by a fire and all that was left was the stone ruins.

But it was still really cool and seemed like it belonged in Europe, not Missouri.  Near here was a stone water tower, which also had been destroyed by a fire.

It was just a short walk back to the car, but first we got on the Colloseum Trail and hiked under the natural bridge.

There sure are a lot of cool geological features in this part of Missouri.  The Colloseum was a wide bowl of steep rock walls that the trail led around.

Finishing up the loop, we hiked back to the car and departed.  Driving north we stopped for lunch at New China and then continued to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park near Columbia.  The short Devils Icebox Trail led first to the Rock Bridge.

The creek made an impressive cave through the mountain and we climbed down to go under the bridge.  It's big enough that it was pretty dark in the middle.

Where the creek flowed in, there was a small waterfall right in the cave.  Continuing on, we climbed down to the entrance of Devils Icebox and Connors Cave.  Although visitors are allowed in the cave, we didn't have the right gear.

And with the light rain, the water level was up and would have been dangerous to go far.  But it was a really cool area.  Before leaving, we hiked the Sinkholes Trail.  Most of the sinkholes were dry and not real noticeable, but there were a couple wet sinkholes.

There was also an old tower and farm pond, evidence of the area's agricultural past.

We finished up the loop back at the parking lot.  From here, we headed back towards Kansas City and checked in to the Hilton Garden Inn at Independence.  For dinner, we had BBQ at Jazzy B's and then started packing for tomorrow's flight.