Castlewood State Park, Ballwin, MO

Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine, and valleys of frustration and failure. ~Calvin and Hobbes

Castlewood is without a doubt my new favorite park in the St. Louis area. Its trails are unique and varied. You can start out on the sandy creek bottom and 5 minutes later find yourself in the woods, walking alongside a working railroad track the is 50 feet up in the air (you aren’t actually on the tracks).

For this morning hike, I took the River Scene Trail, which is a little over 3 miles long and has all that varied typography I mentioned. I started off walking among the trees along the river bottom. There was surprisingly even a beach where people can sit on the sand or play in the water. Since I didn’t bring the proper equipment for that, I continued my hike along the sandy trail. The river was a gorgeous shade of blue-green and it looked so peaceful among all the trees that were surrounding me.

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The trail was also fun in the it wound in and out and around the trees, with many giant ones sticking straight up in the middle of the path. It created a sort of whimsy, as I never knew what I would see as I rounded the next corner.

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I think my favorite part of the trail happened towards the end of the walk along the river bottom. The terrain started to vary and I was literally walking along a one-person trail right on the edge of the river. The view with the water was beautiful.

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And the all of the sudden, like I mentioned earlier, I was walking across a clearing and into the woods and then down below an elevated train track. I didn’t know if they were still working at first, but it wasn’t long before I found out. Several trains went by during my walk, and it was really fun to watch them as they traveled through the forest.

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Then, I hit the stairs. Sooo many stairs. The second half of the trail goes all the way up the bluff, which is a very high bluff. At that point I was glad I didn’t bring the dog, although knowing her she might have done better than I did (I actually didn’t have to stop much at all. Win!).

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The view from the top was worth every step. It was awesome to stand up there and gaze among the trees out onto the river and everything else below. I have to confess I stopped at many, many points to observe and take pictures.

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Before I descended, I decided to sit on the bluff for at least an hour. I listened to music and just thought about life and everything that was going on. It was a very peaceful experience that I recommend everyone try. It’s especially effective if you sit on the actual bluff, and confuse everyone passing by as they wonder what that crazy person is doing sitting on the rock, when there are benches nearby. I say to them: carpe diem.

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