Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where to Go: Lost Valley Trail, Weldon Springs, Missouri

Marshland in the winter.

Zach and I consider any walk under 10 miles to be a stroll, so it’s difficult to find good hiking trails in the St. Louis area. Although some shorter trails are strenuous and scenic enough to be worth the effort (like the ones at Pere Marquette State Park), the little two- and three-mile meanders through the woods just aren’t worth driving out of our way to find.

That’s why I was happy to discover the Weldon Springs Conservation area. It has two trails that will take up the majority of an afternoon, both very pretty and crossing some challenging terrain for a Missourian (translate: decently interesting for anyone who lives in a state with actual mountains). I’ve written about the Lewis and Clark Trail before, which can be 5.3 to 8.2 miles of up-and-down terrain. 

The other trail, which Zach and I have now hiked twice, is the Lost Valley Trail, an 11-mile loop that winds through bluffs, deciduous forest, low wetlands, woodland meadows, and coniferous groves. We finished it in three hours last time, since my speed-walking brother Christian was with us, but for the average hiker it would take longer. It doesn’t have any impressive views like the Lewis and Clark Trail, but the woodland is pretty and the constantly-changing scenery makes it an interesting walk. If you are a day hiker who has a free afternoon, definitely check it out.

Directions: The trailhead is at a little parking area directly off Highway 94. You can look at the map here. (Adobe Reader required.)

Marshland in the spring.

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