Rockwoods Reservation: Prairie, Lime Kiln and Turkey Ridge trails

Some beautiful weather this weekend and a day off of work for Labor Day made for a perfect hiking day, despite the fact that I haven't been in two months... I can't believe it's really been that long! On Saturday I did a bit of a city hike-- I was babysitting and the child fell asleep in the stroller about two minutes after we were on our way to the park. I ended up taking her on a two-hour walk all over University City that probably ended up somewhere around 4 miles long, if not longer. But it was nice to actually get out in the woods again today.

Rockwoods Reservation is in Wildwood, Missouri and was established in 1938. I've been doing a lot of hikes out by the Defience, Missouri area for awhile (like my favorite Lewis & Clark), so I thought it would be nice to change it up a little. It was pretty easy to find, and the hills really start popping up along highway 44, which makes for a bit of nice driving as well. I saw a personal record of one snake, six deer (do they always travel in pairs like that?), and a lot of butterflies. Because of the number or rocks on the trail, I'd recommend a pair of shoes you can rely on-- I'm not saying they have to be fancy hiking boots, but make sure they have some traction. I doubt anyone is quite as clumsy and graceless as I am, but I trip all over the place on these kinds of trails, and the parts of the trail that are covered in small loose rocks were a bit slippery! One of the only complaints about the trail is that for a great deal of the time I was on both trails, there was a lot of traffic noise (and a few train whistles) that I found distracting, but that isn't to say there weren't some really nice quiet spots as well. I definitely want to return as well and do the trails I didn't make it to today.

I stopped first at the Prairie Trail, which is hardly a trail but beautiful nonetheless. Only about 500 yards in a circle, it goes through a patch of native grasses and prairie land that was absolutely beautiful in the morning sunlight. It was certainly worth the small walk and was a nice way to kind of start out the morning before my longer hike. Next was the 3.2 miles Lime Kiln Trail, which gets the name from the 400 ft. tall lime kiln that is at the trailhead, built in the 1850s. It's a really neat landmark, and there is some interesting information posted at the trail for you to read to if you like your history with your hikes (as I do). I hiked the trail counter-clockwise as Steve Henry's book suggests, and man is there a lot of climbing on this trail! The first ascents were really quite steep, and I'm out of shape! They were tough too because it was a mix of roots and packed dirt, and lots of loose rocks. You seem to climb up pretty high on this trail, for quite a bit (though there are some lulls with some more level pathways) before leveling out a bit onto a mostly dirt-packed trail. These trails are less scenic view trails and more tranquil forest scenes. While there is nothing spectacular about the views, it is a beautiful landscape nonetheless. The switchbacks back down are rocky and keep you on your toes, and you can tell when you're getting close to the end because it levels out and follows the main road for awhile next to a stream before coming back full circle to the kiln. Even though it isn't a long trail, it is definitely a great balance of calm wood walking and rocky ascents that require quite a bit more effort.

I finished up my visit by doing the 2 mile Turkey Ridge Trail, which I didn't enjoy nearly as much as the other trail, but a part of this was that there was a small group of people pretty close behind me which always distracts me and makes me feel like I want to keep some distance-- so I kind of rushed the trail too much. Turkey Ridge has about the same scenery as the Lime Kiln Trail with perhaps a little less variety (though there is a really nice pine grove towards the end you walk next to), but still a good balance of steeper inclines, calm dirt-packed paths through the woods, and lots of rocks so there is still a bit of challenge to the hike.


Jonathan Wood said...

Thanks for posting the pics. I especially like the one showing the bridge. I love hiking and what it does for me; however, when you hike every week like I do, it would be nice to be able to hike some new areas. That's why I like seeing other people's hiking pics. I hike in the Salt Lake City, UT area.

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