Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lewis & Clark Trails - Weldon Spring Conservation Area - September 2009

September 7, 2009
11:10 pm
Weather: Overcast, 79F
Lewis & Clark Trails - Weldon Spring Conservation Area


We hiked the full Lewis and Clark trail loop (8.2 miles) on Labor day (no pun intended). Temperatures were moderate, but the humidity was +90 percent. We finished in a little over 3 hours walking at a fairly brisk pace, but taking a few breaks at the several outlooks above the Missouri River.

The Clark Trail is the most popular trail of the two: 5.3 miles with two spurs that lead to great views of the river valley below. It also includes several climbs and descents as it meanders through the hilly landscape.

The Lewis Trail is a 2.9 loop off of the Clark Trail. It too has two overlooks above the Missouri River and plenty of climbs. The most westerly outlook is large enough to hold a picnic for several people. It's a long hike for a picnic, but offers a spectacular 180 degree view of the river valley below.

We saw a few small snakes and a couple deer along the way. If you decide to do the full loop, make sure you wear good footwear and use 20%+ Deet before you begin.

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Klondike Parks Trail - July 2009 Hike

July 3, 2009
8:30 am
Weather: Clear, 68F
Klondike Parks Trail


I hiked the the Hogsback Trail at Klondike Park on a Friday morning. This trail is is extremely short - only 1.5 miles long.

The most popular direction is counter-clockwise that begins with a blacktop paved incline, taking you near the top of the bluff that overlooks the Missouri River. Unfortunately, the only real overlook of the river has been baracaded after a girl took a tragic fall a year or so ago. Also unfortunate, there are no places along the trail where you can get a good view of the river valley below.

The Hogsback trail begins in an east to west direction along the bluff ridge, and zig-zags it's way down a fairly steep hill. There are some interesting rock outcroppings along the way, but most of the trail is densely wooded. A heavy rain would make a hike here interesting - you'll see lots of temporary waterfalls along the way.

Hogsback trail is a nice little diversion before hitting the wineries, or as part of a road trip.

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Klondike Park Trails

4600 Highway 94 South
Augusta, MO 63332
636-949-7535
Trail Closure Hotline: 636-949-7475
Journal: July 3, 2009 Hike
02810011

Trail Distances and Difficulty:
Hogsback Trail - Easy to Moderate - 1.5 miles

Best Seasons: Fall, winter, early spring
Restrictions: No Camping on Trail
Cautions: Ticks, biting insects, poison ivy

Useful Links:
St. Charles County Missouri Parks and Recreation Department - Klondike Park
Missouri Dept of Conservation - Brochure

Trail Reviews:
EveryTrail.com - Klondike Park
GorcTrails.com - Klondike Park
STLtoday.com - Klondike Park
YouTube.com - hogsback trail video

Maps:
Klondike Park Trails - St. Charles County Missouri Parks and Recreation Department




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Monday, May 18, 2009

Rockwoods Reservation - May 2009 Hike

May 16, 2009
11:40 am
Weather: Clear, 62F
Rockwoods Reservation Trails




We hiked the Lime Kiln Loop Trail under clear skies and unusually cool temperatures for May. This trail runs through a heavily wooded area with only dapples of sunlight coming through the canopy.

The trailhead begins at the Lime Kiln, where we turned right and followed it in a counter-clockwise direction. The trail runs gradually uphill until reaching a ridgeline that runs in a SE to NW direction. From there, you move from peak to peak. Given the dense tree foliage, there isn't any place along the ridge where you can see further than a mile or so. If you expect to see long distances, you will be disappointed.

Although this trail is heavily wooded, there is a nice variety of scenery, particularly when you get past the first half. At one point, you decend into a dry creek bed with large rock outcroppings and a thick carpet of dead leaves. The trail also includes several rock steps and large, exposed stones.

The last 100 yards or so runs right next to small creek/stream, with the pleasant sounds of running water.

I was surprised by the peacefulness of this trail given the great weather. Although we saw 4 other vehicles at the trailhead, we didn't see anyone else on this trail. If you're after a quiet spot, this trail is for you.

Rockwoods Reservation, and the Lime Kiln Trail in particular, would be an idea summer hiking spot. The trees provide constant shade and the high ridge would probably offer the best opportunity for a summer breeze.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Castlewood State Park - April 2009 Hike

April 11, 2009
11:00 am
Weather: Clear, 57F
Castlewood State Park Trails




We hiked both the River Scene and Lone Wolf Trails on a beautiful, sunny April morning. The trails were a bit muddy in several stretches due to several days of rain we saw through the week. This seemed to pose more of a problem for bikers than it did for us...until Laurie cajoled me into climbing down a bank next to the river to take a picture. The dialogue was something like this; "Oh, it doesn't look too bad...give me the camera, I'll go down there...". Well, I was stupid enough to climb...I mean slide down to a spot that was twice as much fun to climb up.

The River Scene trail parallels the north side of the Meramec River, running atop a ridgeline overlooking the river, and looping back between the river shoreline and Union Pacific railway. The view atop the ridgeline provides a very nice 180 degree panorama of the river at several points. This is definitely the most scenic trail in the park.

All trails were well maintained and clear of fallen trees and there is a good variety of scenery, from densely wooded areas to nice openings. On the lower portion of the River Scene trail we saw several large patches of blue bells and a few interestingly knarled trees. There is also quite a bit of Union Pacific traffic rambling through the park.

This park seems to get a lot of traffic, which could be annoying if you're seeking a peaceful getaway. That said, all the hikers and bicyclists we ran across where polite and courteous.

If you live in the St. Louis area, Castlewood State Park is great place to kill a morning, afternoon, or both.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Rockwoods Reservation Trail

2751 Glenco Road
Wildwood, MO 63038
636-458-2236
Journal: May 16, 2009 Hike

Trail Distances and Difficulty:
Wildlife Habitat Discovery Trail - Disabled-Accessible Trail - .1 miles
Rock Quarry Trail Hiking - 2.2 miles
Prairie Trail Hiking - 0.1 miles
Trail Among The Trees - 1.5 miles
Lime Kiln Loop Trail - Moderate - 3.2 miles
Green Rock Trail - 3.6 miles
Turkey Ridge Trail - 2.0 miles

Best Seasons: Fall, winter, early spring
Restrictions: Unknown
Cautions: Ticks, biting insects, poison ivy
Journal: None

Useful Links:
Missouri Dept of Conservation - Brochere
Missouri Dept of Conservation - Area Summary

Trail Reviews:
Mohiking.com - 2005 by ladyalite
Beetles in the Bush - 2007 Lime Kiln Loop Trail review
Big Crazy John - 2009 Lime Kiln Loop Trail review

Photos by Ryan Calhoun
Photos by Greg Bizzle
Photos by Pamela
Ben's Hikes - Trail Reviews
Christine Around Town - 2009 review


Maps:
Rockwoods Reservation Map - Missouri Dept. of Conservation




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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mark Twain National Forest Winter Camping


Ten of us camped on the west fork of the Black River at campsite B from January 9th through the 11th. Temperatures on the 9th were balmy, reaching into the mid-60's, which is unusually warm for January in Missouri. Skies were clear/sunny and nobody was complaining.

We had light but steady rain on Friday night and temperatures plunged to near freezing by early Saturday morning. The ground was a bit muddy but thankfully it didn't pour over night. Everyone avoided waking up in a puddle through the night.

Sam serenades his fire to life:
38680021

Saturday temps rose into the 40s but skies remained overcast throughout the day. Zach, Brandon, Paul and I took a hike to the ridge above Cook's creek and explored one of the highest elevations of the area - roughly 450 feet above our campsite. I enjoy these little hikes because I know these heavily wooded areas are nearly inaccessable anytime except during the depths of winter.

An easternly view from the stone strewn ridge top:
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The afternoons consisted mostly of trap shooting and target practice with a wide range of firearms. By late afternoon we would spend a couple hours taking down a dead tree and gathering firewood for the night.

The firing line:
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We bring a wide collection of camping gear on these trips. Several slept in a Cabela's custom wall tent equipped with a wood burning camping stove. Three of us slept in my Columbia Bugaboo tent, and Paul slept in a older model two person tent, which looked pretty cool.

Inside the suite:
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Paul also set up an covered kitchen area equipped with a propane burning stove. Everyone pretty much does their own thing cooking-wise. Roper brought a small Weber, a few of us grilled on a pit next to our campfire, and Paul did a lot of cooking on the gas stove - including cooking us a full breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs and hashbrowns. I also tried a little shovel cooking with mixed results. In a subsequent post I'll list recipes and food to take camping, particularly in winter.

Despite the manly man moniker, we certainly aren't roughing it on these trips.

A southwest view of the campsite at sunset:
38680017

By Saturday night temperatures fell to the mid 20s. - a bit cold, but nothing severe. Our tents were covered in frost by morning and water bottles were close to solid ice. Campsite B is very well insulated from high winds, so the morning was more than tolerable.

This is a view from our campsite of the bluff where the west fork of the Black River turns south towards Sutton's Bluff. Ninja found several small openings to Cook's Cave at the top of the bluff just before we broke camp. That's something I'd like to explore next year.

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Below is a google map showing campsites A and B. If you ever decide to camp here, please pick up after yourself, haul your trash out, and leave the area as you found it.



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