When we left off, I was deciding on a packing list and a place to hike. I ended up choosing Castlewood State Park in Ballwin, Missouri. I chose the park due to its convenient location, abundance of trees, and plenty of hiking trail options.
I followed my packing list for the day pretty closely. One thing my husband smartly remembered to include was Benadryl. It came in handy when we both had weird allergies pop up that made our hands swell up. I’m a little concerned that I was so worried about snakes (snake count was 0 by the way) but not allergies. I’m kind of a dummy.
I made sure to print out some maps before I went to the park. I also printed a second set of maps that were more helpful than the ones provided by the Missouri State Parks. From the maps we decided to hike the River Scene Trail first and left a second trail up in the air. To find the River Scene Trail, park at the first pavilion’s lot and head directly south across the street. River Scene Trail is designated by red tags and we headed left onto the trail. The River Scene Trail climbed up to the bluffs, back down the cliffs via a staircase, along the riverfront and in a loop back to the beginning. It was a 3 mile trail that was a bit rigorous at the beginning but made for easy walking along the way back down.
We stopped for a picnic lunch along the way. We would have eaten at a picnic table but for some reason the park decided to haul the table away before our very eyes. We ended up eating on a bench overlooking the Meramec River instead.
After lunch we thought about trying another trail. Unfortunately, the maps weren’t very good at pointing out the entrances so we gave up and went for the 1.5 mile Lone Wolf Trail that started right by the park office. This trail was marked in orange and overlapped portions of the River Scene Trail, making it difficult to know where you were at times. The overlapping red and orange trail markings were a little difficult to discern. The Lone Wolf Trail started with a steep incline and slowly wound back down the hillside. While the River Scene Trail had plenty of bikers, hikers, and dog walkers, we only encountered 2 groups of people along the Lone Wolf Trail.
Helpful Tips for Hiking
Follow the Trail. Don’t walk off the trail. You could disturb plant life, disturb waterways, get lost, or even get hurt.
Bring more water than you think you’ll need. You would hate to cut your hike short because you don’t have enough water.
Slow and steady. This isn’t a race (unless you were one of the runners and bikers training that day). Find a good pace and take breaks when you need to. I kind of didn’t follow this advice and ended up wheezing and getting cranky for a bit before I got back on the right track. Brownie bites didn’t hurt either.
Watch your step. Along the same lines as the last tip, watch where you walk and walk carefully. A lot of the trail was covered in leaves and rocks. Some parts of the trails had trees blocking the path and the walking surfaces included leaves, dirt, rocks, gravel, staircases, and sand.
Plan your picnic lunch well. We were smart enough to bring plates so we weren’t thwarted when they decided to remove the tables but we brought wetwipes instead of napkins and those just weren’t as effective.
Use technology to your advantage. Along the trail we encountered a QR code that linked us to a page about the grand staircase and the history of Castlewood State Park. Did you know people used to climb stairs to clubs and hotels in this area?
We also used the Nike iPhone app to log our mileage and our progress. If you look closely, you can see that two trails overlap. The Florida-shaped trail was the River Scene Trail and the more circular one was the Lone Wolf Trail. That little green area is where we forgot to shut off the app and drove off with the GPS still on. Don’t be a dummy like us, turn off your app. Overall we logged about 6.5 miles in the park in just over 3 hours (including picnic time). It was nice seeing our travels mapped out before us.
To see more photos from my day at Castlewood State Park, check out my flickr feed. If you have any questions about the park, I’ll do my best to help you out too.