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Castlewood State Park
Given its close proximity to St. Louis, Missouri, Castlewood State Park is one of the more popular state parks in Missouri. Considered one of the best mountain biking locations in St. Louis, the parks numerous trails are enjoyed by bikers, hikers, and horseback riders alike. The park is 1800 acres, and stretches for nearly 5 miles, right along the banks of the Meramec River.
Castlewood State Park is located in Ballwin, Missouri, about 45 minutes southeast from St. Louis. From St. Louis, take I-55 South, until you get to I-270 N. Take I-270 North to Meramec Township. Get off onto MO-141 N, and take that into the park.
Hours and Camping
The park is open year-round, from 7am to sunset. The park closes its gates a half hour after sunset. Castlewood State Park does not have campsites.
You can go horseback riding on the Castlewood Loop Trail, Chubb Trail, and Grotpeter Trail.
You can ride your mountain bike on the Al Foster Trail, Castlewood Loop, Cedar Bluff Loop, Chubb Trail, Grotpeter Trail, Lone Wolf Trail, River Scene Trail, and Stinging Nettle Trail.
You can hike on all the trails in the park, listed below.
Al Foster Trail
The Al Foster Trail is a five mile trail that will take you 3 hours to hike one way. The trail starts east of the park, and runs along an old railroad track into the park. The trail goes through the remains of a former gravel plant, and ends at the Meramec River.
The Castlewood Loop starts and ends at the Chubb Trail. It is a three mile trail that can be complete in about two hours, not including time to get to the loop on the Chubb trail. The trail is on old farmland along the banks of the Meramec River.
Cedar Bluff Loop
The Cedar Bluff Loop is 2 miles, or 2 hours long – not including time getting to the trail. The loop can be accessed from the Al Foster Trail.
The Chubb Trail is 6 and a half miles long, that takes five hours to complete when hiking. The trail starts out in a park outside of Castlewood, crosses through the state park, and ends in a park outside of Castlewood on the other side.
The Grotpeter Trail is a four mile long trail, that will take you about 3 hours to complete if you are hiking. The trail is quite hilly, which makes is one of the more interesting (and thus popular) trail in the park. The length of this trail is also more manageable, and the Grotpeter trail is easier to access than some of the other trails.
Lone Wolf Trail
The Lone Wolf Trail is more difficult, but also shorter, than many of the trails in the park. It is a mile and a half long, and will take about a hour and a half to hike. The trail follows the top of some bluffs, before descending into the valley.
River Scene Trail
The River Scene Trail is the prettiest trail in Castlewood State Park. It is a bit longer than three miles, and takes 2 and a half hours to complete. The trail quickly goes up a hill, and follows the bluffs along the Meramec River. About halfway through the trail, there are some great views of the river and the valley below. The trail descends the valley, and follows along the river for the rest of the trail.
Stinging Nettle Trail
The Stinging Nettle Trail is a 2.5 mile trail that will take about two hours to hike one way. The trail follows closely to the river, giving you multiple spots where you can fish.
Located along the Meramec River, Castlewood State Park is an excellent park to spend a weekend away fishing. The river passses right through the middle of the park, so you can access the river to fish from multiple banks along the trails, or you can use the boat ramp to launch your boat and fish from the water. Common catches at Castlewood include catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass. Make sure you bring your fishing license.
In the early 1900s, the Castlewood area was know as a resort town, for people from St. Louis to escape the hot summer days of live in the city before air conditioning. With the introduction of air conditioning, the resorts slowly closed down and became deserted. The ruins of various businesses and speakeasies can be seen along the many trails of the park.