The Weldon Spring Conservation Area is located in St. Charles County, Missouri. The area features many miles of trails and borders the popular rails-to-trails Katy Trail. One of the more popular trails here is the Lewis and Clark trail system. The path consists of the 5.2 mile Clark Loop with an optional secondary loop called the Lewis Trail to make an 8 mile total trek.
Lewis & Clark Trail
- Length: 5.2 miles on Clark loop, 8 miles on Lewis loop
- Difficulty: 4/5 only due to length. The trail is really moderate as far as elevation gain and surface. Can be muddy.
- Scenic Value: 4/5. Nice views of the Missouri River and Katy Trail as well as a creek.
- Restrooms: None
With kids, we opted for the shorter Clark Trail Loop. Starting from the parking area, head right to hike counter-clockwise. The trail starts out easy for the first 1.5 miles or so. It is flat and wide, perhaps following an old road.
The trail is well marked in orange blazes. There are also signs marking off the distance each mile of the way.
Just under 1.5 miles in, the trail reaches the first overlook of the river. If you are looking for a shorter and easier hike, this would be a good turn around spot. Use caution along all the bluff edges, especially with kids.
Just a little further along is another overlook with a bench and information sign.
The trail continues to wind in and out of the trees and along the bluff with even better overlooks without trees to block the view.
After breaking away from the river, the trail then heads down a set of stairs and switchbacks down level with a creek.
This area is a nice spot for kids to take a break and do a little creek play or rock splashing.
The path runs alongside the creek for a short distance and crosses over it. It then reaches a bench and a sign marking the split in the trail. Right leads to the longer Lewis Trail Loop while left continues on the Clark Trail.
Right past the split is an unusual pile of rocks surrounding a tree. The rocks have various sayings or initials. I’m not sure the whole story behind this but the kids found it interesting.
The markings on the trees for the trail will also switch from orange to green.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the trail is a long, uphill climb that begins soon after. It’s not super steep, but it is a rocky and steady incline.
After reaching the top of the ridge, the trail then switchbacks downhill again and crosses the creek on a bridge.
A few more up and downs are found the last couple miles of trail along with a stretch of wide and flat path. You start to hear the road as you get closer, but the last little bit seems to stretch on until finally reaching the parking area around the 5.2 mile mark.
Things to Know
- A map can be found HERE
- The area is open 4 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
- The parking area is fairly good sized, but this is a popular trail. Try to arrive early or a weekday. We saw only a few people on our hike, but the parking lot was completely full with cars parked far down the side of the road when we left.
- The trail can be very muddy after heavy rain.
- Bug spray is a good idea to have and watch for poison ivy.