F rom fishing for catfish and crappie to knee boarding and kayaking on the lake, Park Superintendent Jered Wisdom said there’s something for everyone in the family at Long Branch State Park.
“All throughout the week, as long as the weather is nice, the beach is very, very popular,” Wisdom said. “Weekends, the whole place is very popular.”
Located in Macon County just miles off Highway 63, the park is a waterfront getaway for families across Missouri, he said.
“We have a lot of visitors from Columbia that come up here rather than go to like the Ozarks,” he said.
“It’s just a nice place to relax for all. You don’t have a lot of the hassle that you have with some of the crowds that are down on some of the southern lakes.”
The park has more than 24 miles of shoreline and three paved boat launches. On the water, recreational rentals include kayaks, paddleboards, tubes and knee boards. Paddles and life jackets are provided with all rentals.
When it’s time to get on dry land, the park also has a variety of campsites and trails.
Wisdom said the park has 76 campsites with four site breakdowns: basic, electric, family and walk-in. Water is available at the campsites from April 1 through Oct. 31, but the sites themselves are open year-round.
Three hiking trails are scattered throughout the park with picnic spots and visible remnants of history.
One of them is Bee Trace, where settlers used to extract honey from bee habitats inside hollow trees at the north end of the park. Today, the park preserves portions of Bee Trace that have not been destroyed.
Many trees inside the park are well over 200 years old, Wisdom said.
The park also holds over 160 acres of native prairie where plants like bluestem, Indian grass and wild indigo grow, restoring prairie grasses and plants. This allows another park activity to flourish: bird-watching.
“We have a lot of grassland birds here,” Wisdom said. “We also have a lot of waterfowl that come through there in the fall and spring migration.”
From the lake to the land, Wisdom said the park is filled with family fun.
“It’s a very family oriented park,” Wisdom said. “We have a lot of grandmas and grandpas that bring their grandchildren up and a lot of families in general that come up and visit.”