The beauty of the Meramec River and its surrounding bluffs, caves and forests have pleased visitors since the park opened in 1927. In 1933, the craftsmen of the Civilian Conservation Corps began blending a variety of visitor facilities into the park's rugged landscape. This popular 6,896-acre park offers year-round access to camping, picnicking and trails. Guided tours of Fisher Cave, one of more than 40 caves in the park, are provided on a seasonal basis for a nominal fee. Water enthusiasts will enjoy swimming, fishing, rafting and canoeing in the Meramec River. Weekdays offer substantially more solitude than weekends. Additional facilities include a park store that offers raft and canoe rentals, campsites (including three group sites), rental cabins, motel rooms and a conference center. Some services and facilities are only available on a seasonal basis. Meramec State Park's visitor center offers a mix of educational exhibits including large aquariums that display the amazing variety of aquatic life found in the river. Here, guests can orient themselves to the park's many permanent and seasonal attractions and facilities before venturing out into the park.
My two sons and I backpacked this trail in the first week of March and it was beautiful. The grass was just starting to green along the trail and many of the smaller trees had buds out, giving them just a touch of spring. Best of all, only one tick seen during our two day, overnight trip. This trail has been rated as “Hard,” a ranking that might be a little high, but not much.
However, like any wilderness experience, this trail has its pro’s and con’s, with the former far out weighing the later.
- This trail is located in Meramec State park, MO, which, by itself, is a great experience. Meramec is clean, well-organized and well suited for backcountry hikers or families who prefer the park-and-camp approach.
- Despite being located in such a drive-in friendly park, the Wilderness Trail Long Loop offers an excellent opportunity to really get into the woods and away from it all. I would NOT recommend this trail if you are a beginner unless someone in your group is an experienced hiker. Upgrade to All Trails Pro to get a topo for this trail, or stop in at the park’s visitor center for an excellent topo map as well.
- Even in late winter/early spring, there is water all along this trail. If you have a good water filter (which I do) and you do not like carrying loads of water (which I don’t - I rarely carry more than two liters), then you are going to love this hike. If you hike the whole loop (there is a connector trail at about 2.5 miles going counter-clockwise, marked with white), be sure to stop at Copper Hollow Spring (just past mile 4, counter-clockwise) and then another small spring just off the trail, opposite of backpack camp # 7. The water from these springs is cold and as pure as it gets.
- Right at Copper Hollow Springs there is a chance to bush-wack off trail and head due East along Copper Hollow Creek, right down to the Meramec river. You MAY be outside the park at this point, but the river (and fishing) are worth the extra five minutes of pushing through the undergrowth. You may also be tempted to swim in the Meramec, but be careful - the currents at this bend in the river are swift and tricky.
- There are a number of backpack campsites along this trail, and numbers 3 through 7 (roughly between miles 4.75 and 5.75, counter-clockwise) are particular nice. They fill-up quickly, and it’s first come first serve.
- This trail is not well maintained in places, notably through Campbell Hollow, from mile 5.5 to mile 8.5 going counter-clockwise. A number of downed trees (large ones) and a lack of blazing means that you will need to pay close attention to where you are going. Even for day hikers, I recommend that you have (and know how to use) a map and a compass before hitting this (or any) trail.
- This trial is very rocky in places, which is typical of Missouri topography. Take care and watch your step (especially if your are carrying a pack), or a bad ankle might be just around the bend.
All in all, a beautiful hike, one that should certainly make your “must do” list.
Great little trail with view of the Meramec and a couple of CCC shelters
Quite a nice trail, though I am not sure it should be rated as difficult. I finished the trail in just under 3 hours. For sure, this is one of the more popular longer trails I've been on in the Missouri state park system as I crossed paths with a few other hikers along the way.
Good trail, took me and three kids an 1 1/2 hours. Couple of views of river and some shelters along the way. Saw a few deer along trail.
We hiked this trail yesterday which was a very humid day (found out later humidity made heat index 101) so made the trail more challenging. Not very picturesque but was a nice hike. Our first time hiking in Missouri so we enjoyed looking at the diverse rocks along the trail. Really like the rock creek beds. Would do trail again if we are in the area.
Decided to hike this trail clockwise around the loop on what seemed like the hottest day in June. Overall this trail was great but did have a few downfalls. The vegetation along the trail was pretty heavy in quite a few spots and I came across a few downed trees that were laying on the trail which required me to go off trail and find an alternate way around. That being said these were not huge issues to me and really didn't impact my opinion of the trail. What did make a difference was the number of mosquitos along the back half of the trail so make sure to bring some bug spray to re-apply after you hit copper hollow spring. Now for the good. There was plenty of animal life around. I saw quite a few deer and there were a few warning signs to tie up your food in a tree because of bears and other critters so I assume they are somewhat common in the area. All the campsites seemed good and all had fire rings set up. The best ones seemed to be sites 5, 6, and 7. Those were relatively close to a stream where you could re-fill your water bottles (of course you should always treat your water before drinking it). Just past campsite 7 was a small natural spring which was a great place for my dog and me to stop and hang out for a little while. A little while after that was copper hollow spring which was really the highlight of the trail. This spring fed a small creek which flowed all the way out to the Meramec River. Once the trail navigates away from the spring fed creek the trail seemed to open up a little. I passed multiple "breaks" in the forrest into a few hillsides covered in prairie grass. There were also more oaks and bigger trees on this half of the hike (this is where the mosquitos were bad). The final campsite was also good although the nearby creek bed was completely dry so not a great place for water. All in all this was a great hike and I would like to come back in the fall as I think I would be able to give 4 stars then but for now we will stick with 3.
Sara M. on Sheep's Cave Trail
used to come here as a kid, took my daughter. still a good time
Sara M. on Wilderness Trail Long Loop
We needed more time than we allotted to hike it, but my 8 year old kept up and we'd go again just learn to take water and power bars. I misread the length oops.