Bennett Spring Natural Tunnel – Lebanon, Missouri - Atlas Obscura

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Bennett Spring Natural Tunnel

Lebanon, Missouri

Away from the crowds of fishing enthusiasts, take a hike deep into the woods and journey into an eerie darkness. 


Missouri is famous for its numerous caves, many of which are open to the public. A popular state park in the central Ozark region much visited for its fishing opportunities, also boasts a natural tunnel born from the same steady forces of water erosion.

A trail just over three miles in length traversing over rugged woodlands and creek beds ultimately leads to a gaping, dark hole in the rock bluffs. As visitors approach closer and enter into the cool embrace of the tunnel, a faint glimmer of sunlight can eventually be seen in the distance. The tunnel is not particularly long, just under 300 feet, and is roughly S-shaped. 

Should visitors brave the wet gravel creek bed and make it through the tunnel to the other side of the hill, there are visible remnants of a failed dam project from the mid-20th century. It was an attempt to fill the tunnel’s exit to turn the canyon upstream into a lake, only to have the obstruction wash away in a flood. To this day, the creek’s water continues to flow unhindered, and instead of being submerged, the peaceful solitude of the tunnel can still be enjoyed by any visitor.

Know Before You Go

The trail is rugged in many places and crosses many creek beds. It is advisable to always check with the state park website to make sure the trail is not closed due to flooding or other inclement weather effects. Take precautions also against ticks.

The hiking trail ends at the entrance to the tunnel. There is no prohibition to enter the tunnel and walk out to the other side, but it is very dark and potentially quite slippery in the middle section, so it is best to bring a working flashlight if you want to reach the exit at the other end. The creek bed continues on from the tunnel exit and there are no further hiking paths going beyond. 

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November 8, 2021

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