Recently the St. Louis heat fell to an unseasonable high of 70 degrees. I shoved my kids in the car and headed for my favorite nearby hiking spot: Creve Coeur Lake! Creve Coeur Lake has several trails, but the one that circles the lake is my favorite. Something about being near the water and watching gentle waves lap a beach, is just good for the soul. Even better, this trail also comes with a legend! Creve Coeur literally means broken heart in French, a name given to the lake and town based on the legend that a Native American woman fell in love with a French fur trapper, but her love was unrequited. She was so heartbroken that she jumped from a ledge and drowned herself in the lake that then formed itself into a heart shape. Although the backstory is depressing, the lake itself is beautiful!
The trail itself is paved and extremely easy to traverse. The only obstacles are the bikers and roller bladers who wiz by you, particularly on busy days. Most of the parking to start the trail is next to the rocky beach, where in season you can rent four-person bikes, kayaks, and canoes. Although I would like to try these activities at some point, for now we just enjoy the walk. Close to the beach and the start of the trails is a sign explaining the Creve Coeur legend and a medium-sized waterfall, particularly awe-inspiring after a recent rainfall. I usually start my walk into the wooded area, leaving the beach as a reward for the end of our walk. On our cool June day, there were not many people out and lots of wind, so as we walked we could hear the waves lapping the shore, which made my heart happy! Along the way we saw cranes, ducks, and even some crazy fish whose fins would pop out of the water.
Not all the trail is a nature wonderland. As you start to round the bend of the circle you walk under an overpass with all the traffic noise that goes with it. Even that seems beautiful with all the foliage around it and the lake in view. If you want to expand your hike or just want something a little different there is a walking only path that starts here and takes you further into the trees and on certain days, a view of a few more waterfalls! This path can get super muddy, but you might find some deer off in the woods or on the surrounding hillside.
If you choose to follow the lake you will come into some picturesque views of the wooded hills, train tracks, bridges, and, along the backside, the not as picturesque soccer fields. We end with my favorite part, the beach! Sometimes you’ll run into some people fishing, a row team practicing, or days like ours where the lake is empty and serene. The water never ceases to bring a smile to my face and make my day that much better.