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Getting Out in the Ozarks: Hiking

BRANSON, Mo. -- The hills and forests of the Ozarks offer a multitude of opportunities to get out and explore. What better way to soak in the scenery while the leaves are changing than a sweet, simple walk?
BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER, Ark. -- The hills and forests of the Ozarks offer a multitude of opportunities to get out and explore.

What better way to soak in the scenery while the leaves are changing than a sweet, simple walk?

That’s how Kevin Cheri and Caven Clark feel.  They are park rangers at Buffalo River National Park.

The brisk morning air and a cool layer of fog over the buffalo national river add fall spice to an already gorgeous region.

The two park rangers stay in the office on most days, but occasionally step out for tours. They enjoy donning a jacket in the early hours of the day. For them, autumn offers the richest experience of any season.

Even when it's a little cool there are great opportunities to come out and hike and see the park,” Cheri said. “It's very popular for folks to come and see elk. You have the various photographic opportunities, people who just like to get outdoors and hike and just see mother nature and good clean fresh air. For all those reasons we get lots of people that come this time of the year.”

The 150 mi. Buffalo River runs through more than 94,000 acres of park land.  It’s complete with ample parking and miles and miles of hiking trails for outdoor explorers at every level.

“You can pick a trail before you come that meets your abilities,” Clark explained. “And your timetable, if that's a concern.”

Most hikers choose the lost valley trail for its smooth gravel walkway. It even accommodates wheelchairs and strollers.

“We have such unique scenic and scientific features that are worth preserving,” Cheri said.

The river is a national treasure and the park service works year round to maintain it. But it takes the help of visitors to be good stewards to the environment.

The park provides essential services like restrooms and concessionaires for food and water. But the remote trails often don't have cellular reception. Not a bad thing, necessarily.

“You're not going to see the level of development or commercialization at this park that you might see along other rivers,” Cheri said.

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