Camdenton, MO

This Missouri Hike Will Lead You to an Abandoned Castle

Travel Maven

Located in the small town of Camdenton in central Missouri you'll find Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Known as one of the most unique parks in the state, Ha Ha Tonka features over 15 miles of hiking trails, a large spring, a natural bridge, caves, and bluffs. There is so much to see and do while at Ha Ha Tonka but by far one of the most fascinating attractions is the castle that lies here in ruins.

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The Castle Trail is an extremely accessible hiking trail that's completely paved. This family-friendly path is just under a mile in length and will take you past a gorgeous lake and up into the abandoned castle.

You'll find the entrance to the trailhead clearly marked along the parking lots on Natural Bridge Road. The upper lot has limited parking. Additional parking is offered in the lower lot. From the lower lot, a shaded walk through an oak woodland area will take you to where the trail begins. Here, there is an interpretive kiosk with information on the park's cultural history. The trail is open year-round and makes for a gorgeous walk no matter what time of the year you decide to visit.

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The history behind this fascinating castle begins in 1905 when Robert Snyder, a businessman from Kansas City decided to begin building his grand estate. Robert's goal was to build a castle that resembled the ones in ancient Europe, he even had stone masons imported from Europe to ensure the same style. Sadly, Mr. Snyder passed away before he could complete construction due to an unfortunate automobile accident in 1906. His sons decided to finish the castle on their own a decade later but lost the property due to the stock market crash in the 1920s.
The castle later became home to a hotel and lodge until 1942 when a fire erupted inside nearly destroying everything in its wake. All that remains are the ruins that you see today.
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The property was eventually acquired by the Missouri State Parks System in 1978. Since then, many of the remaining buildings here have been stabilized so taking a tour of the abandoned castle is safe.
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The castle is still a stunning sight to behold despite sitting in ruins for more than half a century. Surrounded by a stone fence and steps, the castle sits prominently in the middle of a bluff. From the top, you'll be able to take in sweeping views of the surrounding rolling hills.

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