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The benefits of “Location”, Spring Valley Trail, Cliff Cave Park 5/31/2013

June 6, 2013

DSCF1504So summer vacation had begun, and I had all day to entertain these kids of mine. Bad weather was just a few hours out, and I wanted an adventure that was going to be memorable on the pleasant side, so an all day hike was out of the question. Deciding to stay somewhat close to home, I realized that I hadn’t been to Cliff Cave Park in a while, and I was sure there had to be a lot to see along the Spring Branch Trail. So we headed out!

DSCF1542How to get there:

Cliff Cave Park is in the South St. Louis County area, off of Telegraph Road. From the 55/270(255) interchange, take 255 south toward the Mississippi River to Telegraph Road. Make a right (south) onto Telegraph, and take that about 2 miles to Cliff Cave Road. Make a left onto Cliff Cave Road. After about a mile and a half of winding your way through the neighborhood, you will come to the park entrance, go down the long hill, and around the curve to the left. The parking lot for the Spring Valley Trail will be in front of you on your right.

DSCF1526The trailhead is back toward the curve in the road, and it begins with a choice to walk up the stream to the cave or cross the stream and start working your way up the hill to the loop above the cave. IF you decide to go check out the cave (which you should), there is a trail from there that scurries up the hill to the loop at the top also.

So once you get to the loop, I like to head to the right (counter-clockwise). The trail pretty much stays on the same level for the most part, with just slight up and down changes in elevation all the way around until you get the end and head back down the hill to the parking lot. It’s about 2 miles, and it slowly makes its way through this forest tucked within the surrounding neighborhoods. Along the way, there are sinkholes to look down into if the underbrush isn’t too thick, and a big swampy lagoon with a bank that will explode with frog excitement if you approach it on a warm day.  We were lucky this day to see a fawn bedded down momentarily, just about 10 feet off the trail. Of course, it was up and gone before I could even pull my camera out.

DSCF1520What I like about this trail:

Go check out the cave! It’s fenced off, of course, and it’s kinda muddy near the opening…but it’s neat to see and the stream pouring out of it is cool.

It’s close, and even though it is surrounded by residential areas, there are times on the trail where you can forget that civilization is so close by.

DSCF1550We always see some sort of animal life. Usually it’s just frogs, but just like this time, there is always the potential to see a deer. Tracks are everywhere!

It’s a pretty easy, low impact trail once you’re up the hill and on the loop.

I have yet to meet a rude hiker on this trail. I have probably hiked this trail 10 times in my life, and every time someone passes, they are always pleasant and courteous, including the mountain bikers.

DSCF1534What you need to know:

Take your time with the beginning of the trail as you head up the hill. Parts of it can be rocky and other parts can be slippery. Watch your step!

Check at the sign for the trailhead for a trail map. If it’s your first time hiking it, it is good to have one. There are little cutoffs and intersections that aren’t always clearly marked. It would be a shame to see you standing in some strangers backyard, confused and scratching your head.

At the beginning of the trail, you will have to cross the stream. Usually it is low enough for you to just step on the rocks to cross it, but after a rain it might be a little more challenging.

DSCF1552This trail is great one because it is so close to home, and because it has a lot of life in the woods in which it dwells. It is a trail I am very familiar with, and I remember hiking it years ago after a storm with damaging winds had rolled through, a week or two before. I was struck by all the downed trees, and by all the new life springing up on the forest floor from the openings in the canopy. This time however, the storm was on its way. But the kids and I got in there and had a nice hike, and were back at home before the first raindrops fell.

  1. Such places are priceless, as is the time spent with your kids!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Mississippi, right under my nose. River Bluff Trail, Cliff Cave Park 7/28/2014 | Camping Missouri

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