Castlewood State Park Bike Trails

#3 On Trail Map

NEAREST TOWN: St. Louis (St. Louis County).

DIRECTIONS: Castlewood is outside St. Louis near Ballwin, along Keifer Creek Road. Take Hwy 340 south until it turns into Keifer Creek Road. Go east on Kiefer Creek Road, off New Ballwin Road from Hwy 100. Or, from St. Louis, take 1-270 to Manchester west and turn south on Ries Road. Turn left on Keifer Creek Road and follow it to the trailhead. If you are coming from 1-44, exit at Hwy 141, Meramec Station Road, go right (north). Turn left onto Big Bend. Big Bend turns into Oak Street. Turn left at Ries Road. Go over the hill and turn left at the Castlewood sign.

TRAIL DESCRIPTION: The three-mile Grotpeter Trail is hilly and technical as it winds through the park’s wooded uplands. It can be accessed near the first picnic shelter. A one-mile hike is also possible from this trail.

River Scene Trail is a 1.5-mile loop that begins opposite the entrance road to the first picnic shelter. It ascends to the bluffs along the Meramec River, then goes down to the flood plain along

the river’s edge and back to the starting point. The River Scene Trail is mostly dirt, fairly flat, with several short, technical sections.

The Stinging Nettle Trail, named after the plant that lines the trail, is three miles long, primarily flat with several hills. A new trail called the Lone Wolf Trail just recently opened.

The Chubb trail also passes through Castlewood State Park, but it is south of the river and is not accessible from this trail.

HIGHLIGHTS: A fun sprint with a great view along the river. Multiple loop, mostly flat and easy riding, with interesting sights.

HAZARDS: Remember to keep an eye out for horseback riders, a lot of walkers and hikers. Also, in spring, the rising river often reaches beyond its banks, leaving the lowland trail under water or at the very least pure muck for weeks at a time. Please avoid the trail when muddy, since heavy use at these times can cause a real problem.

AREA INFORMATION: This large, heavily wooded park is a mountain-biking must-see. The Meramec River flows through the park, making it popular for canoeing and fishing as well.

An integral part of Castlewood’s past are the majestic white limestone bluffs that tower above the Meramec. The stately wooded bluffs are reminiscent of the turreted walls of medieval European castles. This gorgeous wilderness has attracted people for centuries. During the early 1900s, Castlewood was a premiere resort. From 1915 until about 1940, St. Louisans flocked by the thousands to the area for weekends of canoeing, dancing and sunning on Lincoln Beach along the river. During its heyday, trains deposited up to 10,000 weekenders at three small depots located at the foot of the Meramec River bluffs. A grand staircase, which still exists, guided the fun-seekers to the three resort hotels and numerous summer cabins once located in the area.

The 1,779-acre park also contains a wide variety of natural habitats, including forested hills, a small stream valley, flood plain, gravel bars and the Meramec River. A flood plain forest-a rapidly vanishing feature of Missouri’s landscape-is preserved here. It includes silver maple, box elder, black willow, white ash and sycamore trees. Slippery elm, white oak, northern red oak, shagbark hickory and redbud cover the uplands. Wildlife include cricket frogs, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, kingfishers and great blue herons.

Initially formed by two separate land acquisitions, Castlewood State Park now straddles both sides of the Meramec River. It is also part of the Meramec River Recreation Area, which stretches 108 river miles from Meramec State Park to the river’s confluence with the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. This extended recreation area includes a series of existing and proposed open spaces along the Meramec River that will someday be connected by trails.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: This is true off-road single track. Be prepared for anything: dirt, sand, rocks-even mud. Remember, too, that this is an urban trail that sees a lot of use, so leave the bonzai-type riding for the Surge cola commercials.

CONTACT INFO: Castlewood State Park, 152 Keifer Creek Rd. Ballwin, MO 63021. (636) 527-6481. St. Louis County Park info: (314) 889-2863. Open dawn to dusk.

DISTANCE: Bluffs Trail: 0.6 mile, River Scene Trail: 3 miles, Grotpeter Trail: 3 miles.

TERRAIN: Varies from bottom land riding (basically flat) to steep hill climbs along creek valley and ridge to ridge riding. Hilly and technical on the Grotpeter Trail.

RIDING TIME: 2 hours.

LAND STATUS: Department of Natural Resources.

SERVICES & ACTIVITIES: Hiking, fishing and boating. No camping allowed. River ramp at east edge of the park north of the Meramec River. Fishermen can enjoy angling for bluegill, smallmouth bass and catfish. Forty picnic sites and two shelters are also located here. The park has water and restrooms.

TRAILHEAD: After crossing the bridge, the trailhead is on the right, near the gazebo.

RATING: Easy to difficult. Something for everyone.

Trail description provided by Show Mountain Biking, The Complete Mountain Biker’s Guide to Missouri and Pebble Publishing.