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Park Trails

at Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Turkey Pen Hollow Trail

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking

Length: 6.5 Miles View map

Turkey Pen Hollow Trail passes through high quality dolomite glades and woodland plant communities. The area in and around this trail is managed with periodic prescribed fire.  Information on this fire management is available at the trailhead and at the park office. The trail also takes hikers and backpackers past a large sinkhole, to an access to the park’s special-use camp, a primitive backpack camping area for large groups, and meanders through Turkey Pen Hollow. Hikers often spy deer and turkey along the trail, and if not the real thing, evidence of their tracks and droppings.

After passing the connector trail leading to the special-use camp, hikers will travel across a large south-facing glade. Lower on this slope is an intermittently wet seep area. Ahead, a large outcrop of rock is the remnant of the Red Arrow Fault line that runs through this part of Camden County. This interesting rock area is where layers of bedrock have shifted in a vertical manner and in other places one layer of rock has shifted pushing other rocks layers above it.

After reaching the ridge top and hiking for a short distance, hikers can chose to shorten their hike to 4.75 miles by taking White Connector 1. Along White Connector 1, there is an intermittent pond. This pond, which often holds water in the spring, is home to many frogs, salamanders and toads as evidenced by the cacophony of their calls both during the day and in the evening.  

The primitive backpack camping area for groups of seven or more is located on the two-mile segment of trail after you reach the ridge top, and is in a sheltered valley on the east side of this trail.

Follow the red blazes counterclockwise to hike Turkey Pen Hollow Trail. Turkey Pen Hollow Trail was built by park staff and volunteers in 1997.

Turkey Pen Hollow Trail Rules

  • Only hikers and backpackers are allowed on this trail. Equestrian and bicycle use is prohibited.
  • Backpackers should register at the park office before starting their trip. Even after the office is closed, there are trail registration cards located outside the door to the office, and a mailbox to leave your completed form.
  • Campfires are prohibited. Stoves must be used for cooking.
  • Cutting implements such as saws and hatchets are not allowed on the trail.
  • Only backpackers on Turkey Pen Hollow Trail permit camping.
  • Groups of seven or more persons are permitted to camp only in the designated camping area. While smaller groups are not required to use the designated area, they must camp at least 100 feet from the trail, 200 feet from any major public use area, and at least one-fourth mile from the trail entry/exit point.
  • All other rules and regulations pertaining to park use are applicable to trail users.

Ethics of Good Trail Use

  • Carry out what you carry in. If the trail users before you have not done this, you can help by removing their trash too.
  • Keep your group small. Groups of more than 10 persons usually damage the environment.
  • Dispose of human waste properly. Fortunately, the top six or eight inches of soil provide a system of biologic disposers that decompose organic material.  Keeping this in mind, hikers should select a spot at least 100 feet from any open water; dig a small hole no deeper than six or eight inches; after use, fill the hole with loose soil and tramp in the sod.  Nature will do the rest.
  • Stay on the trail. Do not take shortcuts. The trail has been laid out to minimize destruction of surrounding vegetation and to prevent erosion.
Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
6.5 Miles 6 hours, 30 minutes Loop Red Ha Ha Tonka Oak Woodland Natural Area parking area