Bryant Creek State Park is more than 2,900 acres of pristine forests, rippling waters, and backcountry trails. See trees that may be up to three hundred years old. Set up camp on a gravel bar and do some fishing. Get back to nature at this stunning state park.

Bryant Creek winds through the park and has a reputation for fine smallmouth bass fishing. Gray dolomite bluffs line much of the creek, and sometimes boulders tumble right in.
Photo by Tom Uhlenbrock

THE MOST PRIMITIVE and pristine of four new state parks in the Ozarks is Bryant Creek. The park consists of 2,917 acres of rugged hills, forested in impressively large oaks and shortleaf pines. Some of the trees may be up to three hundred years old, with the largest on hillsides that have been uncut.

Three deep hollows, green with mosses, ferns, and lichen, lead down through sandstone outcrops to the park’s namesake.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Bryant Creek is a clear Ozark stream with a reputation for fine smallmouth bass fishing. It is lined with gray dolomite bluffs as it borders the park on the north for some two miles. Much of the creek is shallow, with scattered deep holes. Riffles run by the occasional gravel bar, and side chutes veer off from the main channel under a canopy of sun-dappled light.

The ridgetop has a beautiful pine forest with views up and down the valley of Bryant Creek. The river bot- toms include dense stands of cane; during one visit, park staffers flushed two black bears out of a canebrake.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

The current management plan calls for rehabilitation of old farm fields into native grasses and flowers, preservation of the glades and mature forests and regeneration of woodlands that have been cut.

Visitors can explore the trails to get a true backcountry wilderness experience. People who float the creek can already set up camp on a gravel bar and fish for their supper. There are two hiking trails where you can see Missouri’s only species of native pine. Enjoy a picnic on one of the park’s picnic tables.

The only sounds greeting a visitor will be the rippling of the water, the chattering-sound of the pileated woodpeckers and the haunting calls of the barred owls. Dark nights bring out a full canvas of stars. 

The park’s steep hills and deep hollows include scenic oak and pine forests that feature large old trees, mossy fern-draped sandstone outcrops and sheer dolomite bluffs.

There is an electronic off-track chair that visitors with mobility issues can use on the Pinewoods Trail and the overlook.

Hwy 5, south of Ava
2,917 acres
Douglas County