Salt Lick Point is a favorite hike of ours on the Illinois side of the metro area. This hike is located on a former quarry site in Valmeyer, Illinois. In fact you can even spy interesting old remainders of this site’s former life.
The preserve consists of three different trails. We like to make a loop by hiking a portion of the Salt Lick Trail along the bluffs, continuing along on a section of the Newman Trail, and then completing the loop by hiking the Johnson Trail which travels along the base of the rugged bluffs.
Salt Lick/Johnson Trail Loop
- Distance: 3 mile loop
- Difficulty: 4/5. Some steep climbing up to the bluffs. Trail surface has roots and rocky in areas. Caution must be used near the bluff edges.
- Scenic Value: 4/5. Great bluff views, interesting mining history, and beautiful spring wildflowers.
The Salt Lick Trail starts past the picnic tables and openings to the mines to the right of the parking area. The first part of the Salt Lick Trail will get your heart rate up as it does involve a moderate climb to reach the top of the bluffs.
Before you know it, the trail will flatten out and soon you will be rewarded with spectacular views across the flood plain.
Use caution on this overlook and all the scenic overlooks as the trail often runs close to the bluff edges. Always stay on the trail as there are mine shafts and unstable cliffs.
There is a portion of the trail soon after with a sign pointing left for a scenic overlook or right for a bypass. The scenic overlook is a bit too overgrown for much of a view and if you go this way, it is a bit steep on the way back down to rejoin the trail. There is a cable to hold on to though. Your kids might find adventurous at least!
Keep on following the main trail and there will be several more view points with better views. If you feel in need of a break, there are benches and signs explaining features of the area at the Salt Lick trail junction with the Newman Trail.
You can either stay on the Salt Lick trail and loop back that way to the trailhead or follow the Newman trail to the Johnson Trail at the base of the bluffs.
We prefer to take the Newman trail to connect to the scenic Johnson Trail. The trail also leads to a scenic overlook. This is the best viewpoint of the trail. Also the place to be extremely careful as the trail is narrow and close to the edge.
If you are feeling brave, it gives an amazing panoramic view.
The scenic overlook trail then heads downhill to rejoin the main Newman Trail (marked in red blazes.)
The Newman trail descends fairly quickly and steeply to the base of the bluffs where it joins the Johnson Trail at the edge of farm field.
The Newman Trail continues off to the right, passing along a creek and eventually leading into the town of Valmeyer. Turn left at the field to start the Johnson Trail.
The views along the Johnson Trail are also great as you get to view the ruggedness of the bluffs and interesting rocks from the bottom.
Spring is especially scenic along the Johnson Trail as there are wildflowers of all colors and varieties.
Continue to admire the views as you follow the easy and flat Johnson Trail back to the parking area. You will pass the old stone quarry building. Take a peek inside but do not enter.
Since every good hiker deserves ice cream, head down the road a little ways to the Corner Inn Sweet Shoppe in quaint and historic Maeystown for some sweet treats as a delicious way to finish the day.
Things to know:
- Salt Lick Point is open sunrise to sunset year round.
- Absolutely no entering any of the mines. Stay on the trail as dangerous areas exist.
- A portable toilet is located near the picnic area.
- There are several picnic tables around the parking area.