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Same Place, Different View. The Rock Quarry Trail, Rockwoods Reservation 5/19/2013

May 20, 2013

DSCF1353It was going to be a hot Sunday in the St. Louis area, getting up into the low 90s as it tends to do this time of year. You could already see the moisture in the air starting to thicken to a balmy haze as we drove down 44 to Eureka, MO on our way to Rockwoods Reservation. The heat was definitely moving in, proclaiming the beginning of what will probably be another intensely warm mid-western summer,  but we were going to spend some time today hiking a couple miles in the shade of the tall, broad, tree canopy along the Rock Quarry Trail.

DSCF1304How to get there:

From 44 and 270, head West on 44 about 15 minutes to Eureka, and get off at 109. Make a right (north) on 109 and take that about 4 miles to Woods Rd. You will know you are getting close to Woods Rd. when you pass LaSalle Springs Middle School on the right. When you see the Smoky the Bear fire danger sign, make a left on Woods Rd, cross the creek bridge, and then turn right on Glencoe Rd and into the park. As you drive along the single road through the park, you will eventually get to the long parking lot at the nature center. You will want to park at the south end (the first spots you come to), and the trail head will be almost directly in front of you across the field, just to the right of the fenced off maintenance area.

DSCF1306The trail has a few access points, but in my opinion this trailhead is the best place to start at, hiking in a clockwise direction, as you will be getting the challenging part of the trail out of the way while you are still fresh and motivated. From the trailhead, you immediately start climbing the hills, hiking up most of the way for the first half mile or so. When you get to the top of the hill, there is a bench which is a nice place to stop and rest a bit after the steepness you just hiked up. This is also where the short loop cutoff is. It’s a right turn back down the hill to the back of the nature center, if you don’t want to hike the whole thing.

DSCF1308But you do want to hike the whole thing, so stay on the trail as it follows the ridge through the tall forest toward the west. After a couple big swooping turns, you come to some steps that take you down into the watershed hollow that you will follow out through the forest, across a dry creek bridge, around to the right, and eventually back out to the road. The last quarter mile or so walks beside the road and back to the parking lot and nature center.

DSCF1335Why I like this trail:

One of the distinct qualities that I have always noticed about this area of Rockwoods, is that it is a very shaded trail. It has a thick canopy way up above your head that allows for a comfortable hike out of the punishing gaze of the sun on a hot Missouri afternoon. That alone should put it on your list.

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There are areas that have remnants of the limestone quarrying that took place in the past. When you get to the bottom of the hills, back in the hollow, you will pass some cutouts in the cliffs on the left hand side that contain some of the discarded ties from the tracks that used to exist along there for the mining operations. It is hard these days to see it as an open area filled with the sounds of human industry and labor, as it has been years and the forest has reclaimed the land, but if you look closely enough you can imagine another time where this place was valued more for what was beneath the trees and leaf litter, than the forest itself. I am respectful of the history, but I am glad it has been returned to it’s natural state.

DSCF1348As I said, if you take the trail clockwise like I do, you will get the hard part out of the way and enjoy the last mile or so of level strolling through the forest. This is also a rather wide and well maintained trail, with much of the walking surface being weathered gravel.

I would call this one moderate simply due to the sustained climb, but it is only just over 2 miles of pretty easy trail.

DSCF1319What you need to know:

I had a hard time trying to consider what about this trail might be a challenge or should be warned about, and I can’t come up with much other than that first long climb up the hill. It hadn’t rained in a few days so we didn’t get to see how muddy or wet it might get, but it really didn’t look like there was much evidence that it would. I would imagine that the lower part on the way out might be a little soggy after a downpour, but that was about it.

DSCF1324

“What do you mean, we have ten more miles to go?!?”

I tell ya, the more and more that I hike with my kids, the more I realize that it brings us closer. The communication and sharing that happens between us as we move forward together through the forest is becoming one of my favorite aspects of hiking, and a very cherished thing overall. With that in mind, the Rock Quarry Trail is a wonderful place for strengthening this connection with them, as I got to hike this trail for the first time with MY mother way back when I was a young person, caught in that time of personal history where I was trying as hard as possible to grow up too.

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments
  1. The expression on your kids faces are priceless!

    • Yeah…and in the interest of full disclosure, it was a posed shot. I have been trying to get a bit of humor in these posts as I see opportunities for it, and I think I need to utilize the two of them more than I am.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Looking back down the Trail, Part Two: Encouraged to Grow | Camping Missouri
  2. Recapturing Childhood. Trail Among The Trees, Rockwoods Reservation 5/3/2014 | Camping Missouri

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