Bennett Springs is a state park located near Lebanon, Missouri. The park is centered on a spring, deep in the ground that was caused by an earthquake, according to the Osage Native Americans. The spring was bought from the Bennett heirs in 1924 and 1925. Since then, the land has been turned into a state park. It has been stocked with mountain trout since then and is great for fishing. The Niangua River, the river into which the spring flows, is a great river to canoe. The park has many trails as well, for those wanting to get right out there with nature. Bennett Springs is a great place to vacate for many reasons: great fishing, great canoeing, and many other outdoor activities.
Growing up, my grandparents have always taken my brothers and I to Bennett Springs for vacation. They have their own place, a nice trailer, about one mile from the river. The greatest time I ever had in Bennett Springs was probably when my grandparents took us canoeing. The park has two main canoe drop zones. Moon Valley is a nine-mile course, while Ho Hum is a seven-mile trip. The Moon Valley trip is upstream from the spring, and the Ho Hum is downstream. Both trips last about four to five hours. I remember the first time I floated down the Niangua. Cottonmouth snakes were everywhere, as well as muskrats and otters. Our group of canoes was so strung out, I did not know if we were a hundred yards out or a mile apart. The float was really fun for everyone in the end though. One thing I learned is to not stand up in the canoe until I had gotten more experienced. I fished the whole trip, although I do not remember catching any keepers on the river that trip. I still had a lot of fun that first trip.
Another great aspect of the park is their numerous outdoor-activities. Bennett Springs has a Nature Center building, in which resides a small museum of the springs layout. At the Nature Center, they have scheduled hiking trails, classes, and tours of the park. Some of the classes are to help get younger kids involved in nature. They teach them how to identify different animal tracks, and different kinds of birds. They also teach them safety in the outdoors, as well as survival techniques. Most of the kids that are involved really enjoy the programs. Hiking is another great outdoor activity offered by the Nature Center that adults can indulge in. While on these hikes, the leaders of the hikes are always full of knowledgeable information about the park and trails. One trail called the Natural Tunnel Trail is seven miles long. Ive never taken that one because it is so long, but I know it has very interesting geological features such as a naturally made tunnel. Savannah Ridge is another trail that is only two miles long. This trail looks over the beautiful Ozark Mountains that surround the area. I would recommend looking out for snakes in the rocks, as I have had run-ins with snakes on this trail. The third trail is the Stream Trail. This trail runs along side the spring. They usually take this hike early in the morning so people can still see the steam/fog rising off of the stream. This trail is very peaceful because it overlooks the crystal clear water of the spring. Natural made steps carve out the cliffs that so many people climb every year along the trail. This is the shortest of all the trails offered by the park, but far from the least interesting.
Of all the things to do in Bennett Springs, I recommend not leaving the spring until it is fished it at least once by anyone visiting. The fishing here is the greatest in all of Missouri. The Conservation Department has sent up a hatchery where they grow and release thousands of fish throughout the year. One day this last spring break when I was in Bennett Springs I decided to go fishing with my brothers. To my surprise, I caught a lot of fish that day. I found out later that the park