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Castlewood State Park River Bluff Trail


 Copyright 1993, by Bob Soetebier



   As the weather gets cooler (and ideal for hiking) I'd like to

recommend an excellent trail to all of you at Castlewood SP in West

St. Louis County along the Meramec River.   Castlewood SP is reached

via Manchester Rd. west from I-270; then s. (left) on New Ballwin Rd.;

then e. (left) on Kieffer Creek Rd. which dead ends right into

Castlewood SP.


   The Meramec River Bluff Trail begins right across the road from the

main picnic shelter (on your left) in the park (water/bathrooms there

too, although, if you go after the first frost, the water and

bathrooms will probably be shut off/closed.)


   You begin the hike by walking across the road from the picnic

shelter and going diagonally up the hillside trail.  Then the trail

swithches back for a short but steep climb to the blufftops... you'll

have gone about 1/4- to 1/2-mile total to the blufftops.


   There are a few short up/down climbs (nothing anywhere near as

taxing as what you would have already have done...) along with *many*

opportunities to stop and gaze out over the Meramec River floodplain

far below from the edges of the high limestone blufftops.  (*Be sure*

to look down at the rocks you are standing on, because, upon careful

examination, you will find numerous examples of fossilized remains of

anciet *ocean* life!  The bluffs you are standing on *top* of were

formed millions of years ago at the *bottom* of ancient oceans... as

the entire Midwest has been innundated by shallow seas at least two or

three times eons ago!


    You can either retrace you steps the way you came; or, you can

continue along the blufftops until you'll be forced to decend at the

other end, down to some old deteriorating concrete steps down to (and

*under* the railroad tracks through an old pedetrain tunnel!) to the

Meramec River banks/floodplain... where you follow the trail back

between the river and the R.R. tracks to the park road (and back under

a R.R. trestle.)  Either way, you'll end up hiking 2- to 3-miles.


   If it has recently rained within a day or two, the Meramec River

floodplains/bottoms on the River Bluff return loop could be a little

muddy.  If it hasn't rained for 3 or 4 days, and it has been sunny,

the mud should either be dried up, or passable. ---  If at all

possible, do the entire loop for *both* the great views from the

blufftop, *and* the interesting views from below of the bluffs

themselves and from along the banks of the Meramec River, too!