Day Trippin near southwest Missouri: Tanyard Creek Nature Trail

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

Over the course of this summer, I’ll be plotting out and exploring some day trips that can be made in the southwest Missouri area and this week I went to the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista, Arkansas.

I’ve been keeping the rising temperatures in mind and have been looking for something close to the area and that, ideally, had water. When I first moved down here in March, one of the first things I covered was the latest trip to states for Neosho wrestling.

I learned in talking with coaches and players leading up to the tournament that one coach was  going away for a weekend soon in Bella Vista, Arkansas so when I was looking for places for the latest day trip that popped back into my mind.

There’s a lot of spots along these trails where you can sit by the water so be sure to bring something to sit on and a snack or a book to read if you’ve got the time.

Travel time: Leaving from Aurora again, similar to last trip, around 12:15 p.m., I arrived at 1:50 p.m.

Signs directing you to the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail are easily seen as soon as you get off the highway and that takes you to a paved parking lot.

I was back to my car by 4 p.m. and back home by 5:30 p.m. with a round trip distance of 160 miles.

What to look out for: There’s a path off the parking lot where there’s a big gazebo and restrooms, a nice pit stops before the trails and waterfall or a good spot after for a picnic.

Following the paved trail as it branches off brings you to a paved walking loop before a bridge with a sign showing all of the trails in the area. The trails, the Avalon Branch Trail, the Meadow Loop, the Tanyard Creek Trail, and the Waterfall Trail, all overlap and are looped and will keep you in the same area.

Along all of those trails are over 200 signs with information about the flora and fauna in the area (I did see a small lizard, one snake in the water and another snake that was big enough for me to stay well away).

A wall of limestone with water flowing outward from within, along the wall of limestone is an informational placard with many of those located all along the trails.

Be sure to watch out for the connecting trails throughout the loops to the Little Sugar Trails, you don’t want to go on those unless you want to be hiking for a bit.

The Tanyard Creek Trail loop takes you north along Tanyard Creek with a pig pen from the past still visible at the northernmost part of the loop.

The Avalon Branch Trail takes you along another portion of Tanyard Creek, with a cave that still has the remains of the cabin near the entrance where the water wells up and throughout the area.

All of these trails have Tanyard Creek weaving in and out throughout them and on a hot day as it as been lately, it’s nice to wade in the shallow water to cool off.

With the hot temperatures, my end goal was to make it to the waterfall that is a result of the dam just upstream from Lake Windsor.

You can take a few routes to the waterfall be it next to the river or clearly marked signs to it once you first enter the trail area.

The more difficult path to the waterfall can be taken from downstream but there is a clearly marked path when you enter the trail too.

Be sure to be careful, there are shallow pools that are deep enough to swim in in certain areas throughout the area but there are also loose rocks in the river. I was near the upper falls area and cut my foot after standing under the waterfall for a cool down.

The view at the top of the waterfall, it's possible to get right under too just be careful and don't slip!
The view from the waterfall as it goes downstream, it's deep enough to swim at the bottom and you can cross the shorter falls in the foreground just be careful when you do.

The trails are well worn and maintained. I would say the only thing to keep in mind is that if you plan on swimming, be sure to bring some swim shoes or be careful when navigating under the waterfall.

It’s a nice little get away just about an hour away. I was surprised an area like that with the creek flowing through and waterfall accessible to swim under in the middle of Bella Vista.

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