Big Niangua River Trail

What Is It?

This new "water trail," accessible by kayak or canoe, covers 13.3 miles at the lower end of the river with 20 points of interest marked by signs along the river bank. A brochure with descriptions of the points, along with a map to help find them is available here, at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, and some of the businesses along the trail.

The project was a three-year effort, and was largely accomplished through donations from local businesses and organizations. It was jointly sponsored by the Lake of the Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalist program, Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance (LOWA), with advisors from the Missouri Department of Conservation, and Ameren Missouri; in partnership with Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Ameren Missouri and the Department of Natural Resources donated the sign blanks, and the Lake of the Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalist program covered the $788 cost of having the signs made. The chapter has also committed to monitoring and covering the cost of replacing lost or damaged signs in the future.

Mother Nature's Riverfront Retreat, Casa do Loco Winery, and Sugarloaf Vinyard donated free kayak access for volunteers working on the project, and are covering the cost of creating and installing permanent trail head signs.

Thanks to the work of LOWA to secure the generous donation of Lake Printing, the first printing of 2500 high-gloss full-color 11x17 brochures was free.

Ameren Missouri created the map used in the brochure and that will be on the signs at the trail heads.

Local members of Missouri State Parks and Missouri Department of Conservation were instrumental in the site selection, brochure development, and the installation of the signs along the river.

Much of the work in accomplishing this project was done by volunteers that are members of our chapter. Chapter member Kathy Fayant led the effort and coordinated all of the tasks. Other chapter members provided volunteer time to: select the sites, identify land owners, get land owner permissions for placing signs, design the signs, place the signs, write the descriptions of the points of interest, create the brochure, and all of the other behind-the-scenes work. This project would not have happened without the dedication of all of these volunteers.

The Missouri Master Naturalist Program is a partnership of the Missouri Department of Conservation and University of Missouri Extension to encourage the stewardship of our state's natural resources through science-based education and volunteer services.