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These kids are “Naturals”!, Natural Wonders Trail, Meramec State Park 6/3/2013

June 28, 2013

DSCF1560Almost a month ago, inspired by the need to take advantage of the day and get a little farther out than we might normally, the kids and I headed out to Meramec State Park to hike the Natural Wonders Trail. It isn’t a long trail, but the previous weekend we had gone to a “Common Mushrooms” class at Babler State Park with the Missouri Mycological Society, so a short hike seemed like a great idea, as we knew we were going to be spending some time off of the trail hunting wild mushrooms.

DSCF1575How to get there:

Meramec State Park is in Sullivan, MO, just about one hour southwest on 44 from the 44/270 interchange. Get off at exit 226 in Sullivan, and make a left (south) on 185. In about 3 or 4 miles, the park entrance and visitor’s center will be on your right. That is also the parking lot where the trailhead for the Natural Wonders Trail is as well.

2013-06-03 13.04.40At just 1.25 miles, it is a pretty short trail, but it turns out there is a lot to see. From the parking lot you head straight into the woods, for not even a quarter mile, where you quickly come to the fork which is the beginning and ending point for the trail loop. We opted to turn right, and we followed the trail through the bottoms along the creek and past the first of three caves. The trail then turns to the left, and you ascend the hill and end up on the bluff above the cave. The trail moves along past a decent sized glade, and then back into the woods and to the second cave. It then makes another left turn, and you hike along the edge of the hill and around to the third cave on your right. Another quarter mile and you are back to the fork, and the trail out to the parking lot.

2013-06-03 13.00.04What I like about this trail:

It’s quick and easy. No incline too steep, no need to bring a lunch or extra water. If you were camping at Meramec, this would be one to hike when you’ve got half an hour to kill.

There is a lot to see! The first section along the stream, the three caves, the big glade. Not to mention all the mushrooms we found and attempted to identify.

It’s right there by the visitor’s center, and it’s worth it to take a little time and go in and check it out and learn something new about the area and Missouri forests.

DSCF1602What you need to know:

It was a little muddy down in the creek bottom. Dress your feet accordingly. Other than that, there weren’t any notable “challenges” to be aware of.

Overall, this is a simple, quick trail that has a density of natural wonders in it. A significant amount more than some trails three times as long. Plus, with the shortness of it, it allows for a more leisurely exploration. We got to take our time and look all over to see what we could find. And I have to give a shout out to my two mushroom hunters, Eli and Sophia! Especially Soph, who insisted on spending the car ride home consulting the mushroom books to identify the ones we had found that day. It was a great time, and I am a lucky Dad! 2013-06-03 12.37.17

 

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3 Comments
  1. There is nothing like experiencing nature through our children’s eyes. Great post- by the way we will be heading that way in late September. I will keep you posted.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Creation of a Tradition. Meramec State Park 5/30 – 6/2/2014 | Camping Missouri
  2. Following the Creek. Meramec Mosaic Natural Area, Meramec State Park 6/7/2014 | Camping Missouri

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