A trip to Castlewood State Park gives visitors a first-hand look at the area's glorious past. At the same time, the natural beauty of the Meramec River and the surrounding open spaces offer a serene escape from urban life. Between 1915 and 1940, thousands of St. Louis residents traveled by train each weekend to the Castlewood area for water fun, dancing and clubhouse partying. Today, the 1,818-acre Castlewood State Park preserves the history of the former resort. The park stretches for nearly five miles, straddling both sides of the Meramec River. It incorporates much of the old resort area, including the grand staircase that once led revelers up to the large hotels and clubs. Although the hotels and clubs are gone, the staircase and the lure of the region remain. Hike the River Scene Trail that ascends to the top of the majestic limestone bluffs towering above the river. Stand 250 feet below on the riverbank among the trees of the native floodplain forest. Angle for bluegill, largemouth bass and catfish in the cool waters of the Meramec River. Eat a relaxing lunch before strolling through meadows and along the spring-fed Kiefer Creek. The possibilities are endless and the choice is all yours.

Good trail but best to go really early at the weekends or mid week if you want to avoid the weekend crush. Went yesterday and it took ages to find a parking space. I guess it was the nicest day in months so everyone had the same idea. Still enjoyed the walk!

A fave

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail, can see how in the spring or fall this trail would be very pretty.

Lovely hike along riverside! Some of the trail is on the edge of a steep cliff.

This is by far my favorite trail, providing the weather has been decent. But even in the rain, it’s absolutely gorgeous. When you climb to the top, you are immediately struck with views of gorgeous rolling hills topped with lush trees full of life (if you go in the spring/summer of course). You follow along the edge of the cliff for most of the upper part of the trail, then you go down a crap ton of wooden stairs, go under the train tracks (which are very active train tracks), and boom — you’re right next to the river. This next part of the trail can be pretty muddy and slippery if it’s been raining recently. You’ll follow the river until the trail eventually brings you out by the main parking area for the river. I’d also suggest to wear bug spray during the whole duration of the hike!

There was a prescribed burn in progress, so we had to modify our planned route. Half the loop is flat, in the bottoms below the bluff. The other half is on the bluff, up and down from one beautiful overlook to another. Lots of dogs and people. Beautiful trail for so close in to the city.

hiking
2 months ago

During good weather it can be rather congested with people, but great views.

We trekked this one today, the bottom running along the river was quite muddy and you found yourself doing the Fred Flintstone trying to maintain balance in several spots. Once you cross under the RR tracks and start your ascension on the staircase you find very spectacular views from the cliffs edge. Some of the trail crosses the lonewolf and white trails. Some areas rugged others moderate over all a nice trek. Only down fall was it was so busy you couldn’t find parking in some areas. You also literally had to give way to traffic in some areas on the trail due to hikers.

Awesome trail that starts with a steep climb and then levels off for a great view of the river. Doubles back after descending a huge set of stairs. Just took the hike during wet weather/snow and even the river bottoms were solid enough to walk without too much mud.

Lots of great scenic overlooks of the Meramec River as you gain elevation. Then it levels out for a very casual walk along the banks/woods along the river, the sound of the moving water is very relaxing. Downside (for me) is that it is fairly heavily trafficked by a lot of causal users that do a lot of loud talking.

hiking
4 months ago

My favorite trail in STL. Great vistas and varied terrain. Biggest negative is the traffic sounds.

hiking
4 months ago

Nice trail along the river.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful views of the river. Impressive crinoid stems in the rocks on the bluff.

hiking
5 months ago

The trail itself was great. It started off with a challenging steep climb, too. I am unsure if it is primarily a mountain biking trail, but it was very crowded with bikers during our entire hike. We moved off the trail with passing bikes at least every fifteen minutes.

Great hike, great views! The only thing that would make this hike better is catching it at the right time of fall. The colors would be amazing. Some places can be challenging for the kids, but other than that great hike.

Awesome hike! Beautiful bluffs over Meramec River. Just enough rough terrain to get my heart rate elevated. Took my elderly dog, which I would not suggest due to the many mountain bikers.

Beautiful trail with a variety of scenery and terrain. The views from from the bluffs are amazing and walking along the river you'll see some really neat trees. Watch for the RED trail markers as it can get a little confusing.

hiking
6 months ago

Clearly marked trail on a beautiful fall morning

great trail for a cold October morning.

Great trail! This says that the trail is supposed to be roughly 3.2 miles but we ended up hiking just over 4 miles in about two hours. There was a decent amount of people, but not too many. My boyfriend and I actually hiked the trail the wrong way (we started with the end and ended with the beginning) so at the end of our hike there was a pretty steep downward grade but it wasn’t too bad. There was a lot of loose rocks and of course leaves because it’s fall. Would definitely hike here again! The trail is well maintained and there isn’t a lot of trash around. The views of the river were beautiful and there was a lot of dogs on the trial (always a plus!).

hiking
7 months ago

A moderately rugged trail loop. Longer than the trail is marked or mapped on All trails. A loop hike through hilly forest area. A brief section near the parking with a pretty creek. Lots of deer. A very busy trail with lots of hikers, backpackers, runners, dog walkers, bikers and signs of equestrians.

walking
7 months ago

Beginning of the trail is hard to figure out. The sign makes it seem like you're on the trail but we unknowingly ended up on the steeper (black dashes) trail. Trail has several points where you're not sure where to go so definitely use your gps. Met quite a few people along the trail including mountain bikes. Views are spectacular.

hiking
7 months ago

moderately challenging and pretty hike. 1 steep hill but the view at the end is beautiful. plenty of little kids, families, dogs, runners, and bikers. i hiked it solo and felt safe because of all the people.

hiking
8 months ago

Good trail well marked. The full length of the trail was about 4 miles long with some nice streams along the way. I will hike it again.

This trail is beautiful all year round! If you have dogs and you plan on going down the long span of stairs, just make sure you can handle it. It hurts a lot when your dogs drag you down the stairs faster than you can walk them.

hiking
8 months ago

Favorite trail to take. So beautiful.

Loved the views and river

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful and diverse trail and surroundings. We got there around 9:00 AM on a Sunday and it was fairly busy. When we left around 10:30, the parking lots were close to full. Also has a convenient playground.

We love taking our dog out to this trail on the weekends - a little escape from the city. The beginning of this hike is the most challenging with a long uphill but it's fairly easy after that. There's a long staircase that can get a little crowded and then it's a lovely walk along the river after that.

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