White River Valley Trail provides a challenging and enjoyable experience for hikers and mountain bikers in a rugged and scenic area of the state. The trail, built on land within Table Rock State Park and on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, mainly covers land that was used during the construction of Table Rock Dam on the White River in the late 1950s. Some parts of the trail are built on roads that were used for the construction of the dam. Scenic areas of the trail include small waterfalls, views of Table Rock and Taneycomo lakes and an abandoned farmstead. The land is rugged with elevations ranging from 710 feet to nearly 1,200 feet above sea level. Natural communities along the trail range from moist bottomland woodland along Lake Taneycomo to dry dolomite glades on the higher areas.
This range of land, from moist to dry and low to high, allows a variety of plant and animal life to exist within the trail area. River bottom areas contain huge sycamores and cottonwoods. Mid-level trees are mostly oaks and hickories with the higher areas containing shortleaf pines and the glade-dwelling Ashe’s juniper. Animal diversity is great with birds, such as the great blue heron, found in the White River valley and desert-adapted species, such as roadrunners, collared lizards and tarantulas, in the glades.
The Red Loop is the most technically challenging loop and contains a number of obstacles for the experienced cyclist. These obstacle areas are signed along the main trail and should not be attempted if there is any doubt in skill level. This loop runs through upland woodland and creek bottom areas with a relief of about 120 feet. There is a lot of exposed dolomite rock. At the north end of the loop, there is a filtration pond designed to contain silt from the dam construction era. The pond is a nice place to observe waterfowl and beavers. White connector 1 is located near the center of the loop to allow for shorter trail experience. On the east side of the pond, White connector 2 runs for .50 mile where it joins the Blue Loop.
The Blue Loop is the longest loop and also the most diverse loop for nature. Portions of this loop run along Lake Taneycomo before climbing to the glades of Baird Hill with nearly 400 feet of elevation gain. White connector 3 is located near the center of the loop and indicates the closure point of the Blue Loop during gun hunting seasons. The loop can be accessed from white connectors 2 and 4 or from the Lake Taneycomo parking area down the hill from the dam’s scenic overlook.
The Orange Loop is the shortest loop with an elevation difference of about 110 feet. This loop meanders to some small waterfalls on Baird Mountain Creek. The only access to the Orange Loop is by white connectors 4 and 5. White connector 4 comes from the Blue Loop to the north, while white connector 5 lies to the south of the Orange Loop and connects to the Green Loop. White connector 5 will take trail users through an old farmstead area before it merges into the Green Loop. Trail users should take care not to disturb buildings or artifacts in the farmstead area.
The Green Loop has the highest elevation point on the trail system at nearly 1,200 feet. The loop runs through grassland, glade and wooded areas and has great views of the area. The Green Loop can be accessed from the trailhead at Trophy Run Road or from white connector 5 on the north side of the loop. Trail users should take extra care to stay on the trail in this area as dangerous features such as loose rock, falling hazards and private property are nearby.
Portions of the trail on Corps of Engineers land are closed during gun deer and turkey seasons. The entire trail system is closed following rains. Backpacking and camping on the trail are not allowed.