Adventurous Things To Do at Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Lake of the Ozarks State Park

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Lake of the Ozarks State Park is Missouri’s largest and most visited park. It has 89 miles of shoreline on the Grand Glaize Arm alone! Its proximity to Osage Beach and Bagnell Dam is part of the reason so many visitors come every year looking for fun in the sun on the ‘Best Recreational Lake in America.’

This guide will introduce you to the best things to see and do in Lake of the Ozarks State Park with interactive maps to help you plan your trip and make the most of your precious ‘Lake Time.’ These maps are constructed with native Google Pins that have reviews and photographs along with trails extracted from topo maps, so be sure to click around and take a virtual tour. If it doesn’t load right away, try hitting the refresh button on your browser. We think it’s worth it. 😉

Boating in Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Generally speaking, Lake of the Ozarks State Park can be divided into three sections: the north side, the south side, and the Grand Glaize areas. The north side and Grand Glaize areas each have boat launches and marinas approximately 15 miles apart by road and 10 miles by water.

Boating activities are centered around the marinas, including a wide range of boat rentals, fuel, and boat ramps. Top activities include cruising the coves like the popular Cabbage Cove just around the corner from the Grand Glaize Marina to secluded, unnamed backwaters.

There’s also a 14-stop interpretive water trail from the Grand Glaize Marina to the Public Beach 1 Marina (on the north side of the park adjacent to the campground). Along the way you’ll learn more about the area’s rich history, geography, and ecosystems. You can see the highlights from the Aquatic Trail layer of our interactive Lake of the Ozark map but be sure to pick up a handout guide at various locations in the park before launching on this unique interpretive trail.

Lake of the Ozarks State Park Aquatic Trail
Grand Glaize Marina
Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Swimming at Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Swimming is an immensely popular thing to do at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, which will come as no surprise if you’ve ever been in a sweltering mid-Missouri summer. There comes a time around mid-afternoon when you just really want to jump in a lake!

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Luckily, the park has not one but two sandy swimming beaches, one at the marina and one by the campground. Also, swimming from your boat is part of the quintessential gunkholing experience when you’re anchored in your favorite cove.

Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Hiking in Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Lake of the Ozarks has miles of trails for landlubbers from shady glades to flowering meadows, often popping out onto spectacular lake views from the bluffs.

Some of the best trails in Lake of the Ozarks State Park are:

  • Rocky Top Trail – ‘Most Popular’ A 2.0 mile loop hike on the bluffs near the marina that can be cut short with a loop connection about 1/2 mile in.
  • Woodland Trail – ‘Most Remote’ A 3.1-mile loop on the campground side of the park that has a backpacking camp area
  • Fawn’s Ridge Trail – ‘Easiest’ A 1.3-mile trail adjacent to the campground with .6 miles of wheelchair-accessible path
  • Trail of the Four Winds (South Loop)– ‘Longest’ A 11.3-mile loop around the municipal Lee C Fine Airport
  • Coakley Hollow – ‘Most Education’ A self-guiding interpretive trail through one of the park’s most ecologically diverse areas.

Be sure to check out our ‘Trails Layer’ on the interactive map for more details. You’ll generally find ratings and photos on the trailhead pins, mileage, and descriptions on the trails themselves. The map objects are also color-coded to coincide with the blazes used on each particular trail.

Mountain Biking in Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Mountain biking is a growing sport that allows participants to cover more ground than traditional hiking while employing advanced skills and balance. The park has many miles of duel-purpose single-track trail for riders to enjoy, divided between two areas, Honey Run and Trail of the Four Winds.

The Honey Run system is like three trails in one. The Flatwood Approach is the highest rate section that is an out and back from the main parking area to Anderson Hollow Road. From there, the South Loop has 2.5 miles of beginner-level riding, and the North Loop has 4 miles of intermediate riding. The round trip mileage of all three sections from the main trailhead is 12.5 miles, but you can break the sections up by parking along Anderson Hollow Road and only riding one or both of the loops.

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The South Loop of Trail of the Four Winds is an 11.3-mile advanced loop with additional trail mileage available along the North Loop, Hidden Springs, and White Oak trails. Riders should be aware of horses on these trails, especially near the stables on the southern end of the South Loop and all of the Hidden Springs and White Oak trails.

Trail in Missouri State Park

Horseback Riding at Lake of the Ozark State Park

There are three horseback-riding trails in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, including the 14.1-mile Trail of Four Winds, which crosses almost every kind of natural community in the park. Other trails that allow horses are Hidden Springs and White Oak.

Currently, there are no plans to have another stable operation within the park. Please refer to the Missouri State Park horseback riding page for more information.

Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Cave Exploration at Lake of the Ozark State Park

Missouri is known as the cave state, with over 7,500 documented caves. That number could be much larger with secret caves that haven’t been made public for their own protection. With approximately 7,500 recorded caves in the state, Missouri has so many caves because it has carbonate rocks that can be easily dissolved by water. Slightly acidic rainwater filters into the ground and enters cracks that form caves. As the water moves through caves, it deposits minerals from the dissolved rock creating speleothems, or cave formations.

Ozark Caverns in Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers visitors a chance to learn about caves and the cave system on one of two tours. Their Traditional Tour lasts approximately one hour and is a half-mile round trip. Children of all ages will learn about general cave development, speleothem formation, and cave life from a knowledgeable guide. There’s also a Children’s Tour for ages five and up that lasts 30 to 45 minutes and is about a quarter-mile round trip where they cover caves basics. Check the park’s cave tour page for hours, costs, and reservations.

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Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Wrapping up Things To Do at Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Lake of the Ozark State Park is a beautiful place to come and explore the land or the water. You can beat the summer heat by splashing or spelunking, and there are many ways to return to nature. It’s a wonderful compliment to nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park and ranks as one of our romantic and adventurous things to do in Lake of the Ozarks.

Remember that the park roads do not connect the multiple entrances to the park. The marina complex is separate from the campground complex, and they’re both separated from Ozark Caverns and the Honey Run trail system, so plan your activities around which part of the park you’re visiting and try to group them together. Also, consider hiking or biking in the morning and then caving or swimming in the afternoon. Finally, be sure to follow the rules and suggestions of the park on how to have a safe and enjoyable visit to Lake of the Ozark State Park.

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Bike trail Bridge
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