For a while, I had heard friends rave about Castlewood Park, so I finally got out that way to see what the fuss was about. Once I got there (it is about 30 minutes from Downtown St. Louis in Ballwin Missouri), I quickly understood the appeal! The Meramec river runs through this lush park with steep overlooks and its remote setting means there’s nothing but nature to see for miles!
How Rough is It?
There are many trails at Castlewood to choose from, with varying difficulty. However, most of the path is gravel with some dirt path sections. While some are relatively flat and follow the river, on our visit, we chose a challenge of steep hilly terrain overlooking the river. Not being the most fit person in the world, I had to stop several times to catch my breath as we ascended the beginning incline. Once you reach the top of the hills/cliffs, there are outlooks with benches and a railing, although some hikers choose to be daring and climb out onto the rocks. The downhill can look intimidating with large drop offs, but wooden staircases have been built for the worst of it.
How Long is it?
Altogether there are 26.6 miles of trail over 1,818 acres, you can choose which trails you take and the length you’re willing to walk. We walked up along the bluff and down along the river, spanning about 5 miles. There are also short, grassy trails near a playground, which is great for toddlers. Near the playground is a little creek to wade in!
How Scenic is it?
Because you climb so high, this may very well be one of the most scenic trails in the St. Louis area. From the top of the bluff you can see the river and trees down below. Part of the trail also follows the railroad track, including tunnels underneath the track. You can also walk alongside the Meramec and watch the river flow right next to you.
I can’t wait to explore more of this expansive nature haven, close to the city!