If you like to fish and live near Missouri, there is a good chance you have heard of Bennett Springs. If you are not into fishing … well, there are a couple of trails and plenty of car-camping sites.
A couple weeks ago we decided to take a short weekend trip out to Bennett Springs to check out the trails, specifically the Natural Tunnel Trail. It is listed at 7.5 miles, but the GPS reported our trek at closer to 9.5 miles. We found the trail fun, but bring bug spray and keep checking for ticks. Also, bring a second set of shoes for water crossings.
A Recap of the weekend
We arrived Friday night and set up our tent between thunderstorms. The drive from the Kansas City area is not bad, so we made it in a bit over three hours with the weather.
Before the next set of thunderstorms rolled in, we managed to eat some dinner and build a fire. As we were getting into the tent for the next set of showers, we heard what we thought was the tornado siren, but it lasted only 4 rounds and we later learned it is how they tell those fishing to get in or out of the water at the cutoff points (the 0630 alarm the next morning gave the clue).
Saturday, we hit the trail and managed to get several miles into it before having to turn around due to high water at the crossings. As it turned out, the numerous water crossings lacked any footbridges or even any real stones pathways. Had it not rained so much, we might have been able to make more of them without the water going over our ankles, but faced with calf and waist deep crossings and with our second pair of shoes at the campsite, we turned around and went back. On the way back, we found the water had still been rising while we were on the trail. In one spot in the video, the crossing had been dry as the water swirled around what we expected was an underground fissur. Heading back, the water eight inches over the top of the gravel that had been several inches higher than the water on the way out.
On Sunday, we brought our second set of shoes/sandals and were able to make it across the streams easily in most places. We did have a handful of crossings that we had to hunt up or down stream to find a place more reasonable spot (one crossing, even with the lower water levels, would have been chest deep where the trail hit the stream).
We found a small cave before the Natural Tunnel, but I had not brought any knee pads for crawling about so I stayed near the entrance.
The Natural Tunnel was a lot of fun (and forgetting to take off the sunglasses makes it a lot darker when you are in it). In reading about the history of the area, at one time, they had covered the entrance to the Natural Tunnel with concrete in an attempt to damn the flow of water and make a lake. Fortunately, the damn failed and we are able to enjoy the tunnel. The concrete in the video is what remains of that attempt.
At the state park, there is also a nature center, lots of fancy cabins, and a few other trails. We’ll likely go back just because it is fairly close and the trail was mostly tree covered. A few places on the trail had some fantastic views that would be gorgeous in the fall.