News updates and LaBarque Creek hiking
Most St. Louis County Parks have reopened. It seems that all the parks that are popular for hiking have reopened. The exception to that is Lone Elk, which is open, but only for drive-through to view the elk and bison. Many of the trails are one-way to help people keep a safe distance.
State parks are open for hiking but mostly closed for camping. Check the website for specifics.
This entry's social distancing hike is Labarque Creek Conservation Area. This has long been one of my favorite hiking spots, but I hadn't been there in years, because it's so close to Don Robinson State Park, which is possibly my favorite Missouri State Park. LaBarque is great in the summer because there's a really excellent area for splashing in the creek and standing in waterfalls just a mile from the trailhead.
It's beautiful any time of year thanks to its sandstone formations, forests, boulders, and overlooks. The loop trail is almost exactly three miles. It's got a beautiful variety of environments and vistas and is just so peaceful and lovely. And just a short drive from Interstate 44.
Generally the conservation areas are less well-known then the state parks and so they tend to be less crowded. I haven't been to a state park since we went to Mastadon at the end of March on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with crowds and crowds of other people who weren't distancing. If you do hike at a state park, make sure it's early in the morning or on a day with less than ideal weather. It's amazing the difference in crowding when there's just a bit of rain falling, or even if it's just threatened in the forecast. I love a hike with a bit of rain, especially if you can duck in and out of the rain drops under a thick canopy of trees.