After what felt like an extra long and cold winter, spring is finally here. If the warm weather and budding trees have you ready to explore outside, here is a list of 10 great St. Louis area hikes that really shine during the spring. While most of the flowers are just starting to pop out, in the next couple of weeks these trails will be awash in color.
1. St. Francois State Park
St. Francois is a lovely Missouri State Park with several hiking trails. The Mooner’s Hollow Trail is a great choice due to its cascading waterfall. However, the Swimming Deer Trail is the real star in April. The trail runs past endless carpets of bluebell flowers. It’s a stunning display that we make a point to visit every year. Check the park’s facebook page to keep up to date on the bluebells blooming progress which typically peak early to mid-April.
2. Shaw Nature Reserve
Shawn Nature Reserve offers 14 miles of trails through a diversity of habitats. A beautiful place to explore or hike, the flowers are especially colorful in spring. Thousands of daffodils can be found blooming near Pinetrum Lake. Take a hike from the Martz Trail House down to the Meramec River floodplain to see bluebells spread all around in April.
Online tickets can be purchased in advance. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under.
3. Valley View Glades
Valley View Glades is a great spot for seeing a huge variety of native wildflowers in spring and summer. A 2.8 mile loop trail travels in and out of open glades. Spring rains mean several wet weather waterfalls along a scenic creek. Come during different seasons to see all the various plant varieties in bloom.
4. Washington State Park
You will be too focused on the flowers to count just how many steps really are on Washington State Park’s 1,000 Steps Trail. The striking blooms along this trail pop up along the river bottom as well as all along the steps themselves. This is a great one for some of the more colorful varieties of wildflowers with peak bloom in early to mid-April. Don’t miss hiking or driving to the scenic overlook for a great view of the area.
5. Rock Hollow Trail
If you are looking for a paved trail option, try the Rock Hollow Trail in Wildwood. This 2.3 mile trail has a long hill, but is flat and wide as it follows an old road bed. Kids will enjoy counting the dozen bridges along the route. Trickling waterfalls and a sea of bluebells can be found along the trail in spring. Combine Rock Hollow with the Al Foster Trail for an easy and longer walk.
6. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park
The Mina Sauk Falls trail at this state park leads to the tallest waterfall in the state. A rocky and rugged trail travels past a great overlook for the area before reaching the waterfall. Spring rains make this natural wonder cascade down a 132 foot drop. Visit now before the summer heat dries the falls to a trickle.
7. Babler State Park
Babler is great place when you want to explore in nature without having to drive too far from St. Louis. The Dogwood Trail is great spot in early spring to see the dogwood’s in full bloom. Other wildflowers can found along almost any of the seven park trails. Redbud trees also show off their bright pink blooms in spring. You can get a great view of them just driving on the park road.
8. Rockwoods Reservation
Both the Trail Among the Trees trail and the Rock Quarry Trail are good ones for wildflower viewing. Not only can you see a variety of blooms, but also some impressive rock formations and quarry remains.
9. Olin Nature Preserve
The Nature Institute’s Olin Preserve is a hiking gem on the Illinois side. Wildflowers of all kinds can be found along the trails. Hike during the rainy spring season to see Beaver Falls and several smaller waterfalls. Trails are well marked and well kept. Whether you want a short and easy hike or a more rugged trail up and down the hills and hollers, this is a place for all. *Trails close for the winter but are set to reopen April 1.
10. Salt Lick Point
Salt Lick Point is one of the best trails in the metro-east. While the views from the Salt Lick Trail often steal the show, the Johnson Trail is one to see in spring. A flat path at the base of the bluffs, the Johnson Trail winds past an impressive display of colorful blossoms. Make a loop by combining it with the Salt Lick Trail to get the best of both trails.
Please be sure to leave all wildflowers as you find them so others can enjoy them too. Leave no trace and explore carefully. Happy Hiking!