When I started the 52 Hike Challenge the very first year, I started keeping a little notebook where I would write down the place, the trail, the companions, the weather, and notes about the experience.
As my hikes became more frequent, this became more tedious. 🙂 I started adding them to a Google map. Then I somehow lost that map. So now I have a map that I keep track of places we’ve been and places we want to go. I started linking my blog posts to the map. I would like to continue by making some notes about the locations on the map, but let’s get serious- I’m not there yet. Someday though!
It is only for local hikes. Local meaning in Missouri and surrounding states, basically. And it’s recent hikes. Recent meaning in the past two or three years.
I have shared this with some people and have received good feedback, so now I want to share it with everyone. I have it permanently linked on the nav bar of this blog, and I will link it here or if you click on the map below, it will take you to the interactive map. Let me know if you have any questions about any of our places!
We are so fortunate that Busch Wildlife is practically in our backyard! I never really went there too much for hiking, just fishing and nature programs and an occasional picnic by a lake. But it actually has quite a lot to offer!
Busch CA Quick Facts:
open 4am to 10 pm
almost 7,000 acres large with over 3,000 acres of forest
28 fishable lakes
Amenities include boat rentals, pavilions, picnic areas, shooting range for firearms and archery range, visitor center, hunting and wildlife viewing blinds, docks, swimming, and trails
One thing I think everybody around can attest to is Busch is full of secrets and surprises. When I was little, my dad took me here to teach me to fish. Tragically, I remember a little girl meeting a tragic fate at Busch, and for years, I was wary to come out. As I got older, I found the old bunkers cool to explore. And now, I go there for its convenience and its variety of programs.
There are a couple of longer trails- the Busch Wildlife Hiking and Biking Trail and the Hamburg Hiking/Biking Trail- and several shorter trails within Busch. There are LOTS of connector trails that connect lakes and other trails. Click on this map– it will help. If you use AllTrails or Hiking Project, many of these trails are not mapped out. A lot of people also enjoy just hiking the service roads and exploring.
The Pine Trail is very popular, especially for family photos. It’s super short, but it connects to other connector trails, so you can make it a longer hike to the lake and back. It’s absolutely gorgeous, a small grove of very tall pine trees. There’s a stream nearby too, best in wet weather. We frequent this one.
There’s a paved trail behind the Conservation Office called the Fallen Oak Trail. This has a short loop or a long loop for you and it’s about a mile long. There’s also a bird watching blind, a bridge across the creek, and creek access. This one’s pretty but its major advantage is the pavement for when it’s way muddy or your companions are older or have physical limitations.
The Woodland Trail over by the archery range is one of my favorites. I’ve literally never seen anybody else there, even during the pandemic. And it’s very woodsy. It’s more of my favorite during the late fall and winter months because it’s got lots of undergrowth and so I don’t frequent it as much in the summertime.
And then of course, there are lots of opportunities to walk around the lakes, enjoy a picnic or a sunset, or fish in the lake. Busch has a lot more to offer than one might think, especially for hiking.
Kareem’s Hot Take: So for me, I like being around bodies of water. It brings me great comfort and helps in my meditation. So Busch is a great example- many lakes to walk around, fish, be in a good place. There are a lot of really nice paths- kid-friendly paths, short, long, relaxing, not challenging, easy trails there for everyone.
Hiking during the quarantine can be a challenge because nobody has anything else to do, so everybody is out. If we see a full lot, we usually move on because we want to social distance responsibly while hiking. We were dropping off things at Kareem’s mom’s house and picking things up at my parents’ house, so we were looking for something in the area. And so was everyone else! Sunday was a super nice day, so parking lots everywhere were full. My first two ideas for a place to go not far from my parents’ were both a bust. So we went to Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family Conservation Area, not far from my first two ideas.
This has been on my list for a while, but never really topped it because there wasn’t anything too compelling for me about it. But boy was I wrong! It was absolutely gorgeous.
Glassberg Family CA Quick Facts:
located in very northern Jefferson County, about four miles from the 109/FF junction
open from 4 am- 10 pm
LaBarque creek runs through it and offers overlooks of the Meramec
No bathrooms, picnic tables, or other amenities- hunting is allowed
Hiking opportunities: 3 mile loop trail
There is just one hiking trail in the area. It is a 3 mile loop. We got about 3.5 miles in total on our visit, with the spurs and exploring the creek and service road. The trail is a mix of surfaces- gravel road, old blacktop, dirt, and grass. The elevation gain is about 350 ft. It is pretty much all uphill for like the first mile. There is some up and down for the rest of the hike though as well. It goes through woods for most of it, but includes the three acre lake, overlook on the bluffs, and there is a manmade glade for the power lines to go through the hills- you go through this area a couple of times.
I should never have written this conservation area off for later or maybe next time- it was worth it! My word for this hike was “pretty.” The woods were very pretty. The beginning of the trail has a lovely memorial to the Glassberg family, and it starts as a gravel road. You’ll come to a small waterfall (if it has recently rained, it will be making more noise) on the right very shortly into the trail.
It continues uphill forever according to Kareem, although it’s actually about a mile. The gravel gives way to broken old blacktop and it varies from gravel to old blacktop for a while. On your journey uphill, there’s a spur off to the left to access the three acre lake. At the top of the hill, there’s a spur off to the right that is marked to get to the scenic overlook with a viewing platform for a lovely look at the Meramec from the top of the bluffs.
You then go along a dirt trail into the forest. You’ll come out for a little bit into a “glade” which is actually the clearing for the electric wires. Then back into the forest. You cross the glade again and go downhill for a while, which Kareem was excited about.
The dirt then gives way to grassy trail then back to gravel road. There’s another rock ledge with waterfall that I imagine is completely dry if it hasn’t recently rained.
I’m really glad we checked it out! It was much less crowded than Young or LaBarque Creek, so it’s the perfect quarantine hike.
Kareem’s Hot Take: I really liked this one. It was a challenging hike- lots of ups and downs. It was a good workout because it felt there was a lot of incline, but really it was just pretty. Well-maintained. The paths were very clear. It wasn’t rocky underfoot. It was really pretty- you get a little bit of everything. You get a lake, woods, a stream, waterfalls. Awesome views.
More than a few years ago, someone told me and my ex-husband that the purpose of being and having a partner was to bear witness to one another’s life. When she said it, I didn’t give it a ton of thought. It was a hmm moment, and then I don’t think I thought much more about it. More than a few years down the road from when I first heard that comment, it hit me.
I was talking to said ex-husband and during the conversation, I remember, thinking, “Wow. This man does not know me or my life anymore.”
It goes beyond just not knowing what’s going on, but it’s the lifestyle, the daily players in your life, the current goals, just everything. After my divorce, my entire life changed. My lifestyle, my daily routine, my goals, my values, my mindset- all of it. The way I did life changed. It’s amazing how someone who so intimately knew those things once, suddenly doesn’t. Or maybe not so suddenly.
Anyway, maybe all that is a whole other post. The point of this one is, that not too long ago, my current partner and I were talking. And it just hit me like, oh. This is what it means to bear witness to someone’s life. This is the privilege of partnership. It’s not just knowing those details of daily life of the other. It is the deep honor of witnessing another’s life experiences, suspending judgement, being a loving support, a safe space, holding space for them, and mutual vulnerability.
It’s also practicing vulnerability and speaking our truth. Learning our truth, being our true selves, and exploring that. I have learned so much about this through my current partnership and I’m so grateful. I sometimes wonder if those comments so long ago were a seed planted so I could recognize this.
A colleague and I were discussing partnership and the value of it a couple weeks ago. It goes deeper than a playmate or a companion. It is someone to truly bear witness to your life experiences and for you to bear witness to as well. And I think it’s a challenge- you have to be vulnerable and intentional and ensure that you are taking good care of yourself in order to truly be a partner to yours.
Kareem and I were talking about partnership too recently. And equity in partnership and gender and gender roles and all kinds of deep stuff that I love talking to him about. I mentioned that I felt like I was solely responsible for certain things- namely, meals. In response to this, he made dinner that night. And not only that, but he has made me feel heard and respected over and over again. It didn’t end with dinner that night. It has been a conscientious effort to check in and ensure that we feel like things are better balanced. That responsiveness is truly witnessing and hearing another then reflecting and responding. That’s partnership.
It’s wonderful, it’s easy and it’s not. I’m learning a ton and I’m grateful.
**Also I want to clarify- this is in NO way commentary on my marriage or my ex-husband. I am not saying he was NOT a partner. This is just my current perspective on partnership.
One of my hiking goals was to do all the trails in Babler. Babler State Park is very near where I live, and I go there often. However, I was tending to do the same trail over and over (looking at you, Hawthorn!). So I added completing every trail at Babler to my goals.
Babler Park is very close to St. Louis and is in the middle of suburbia, but it feels like a world away. I love hiking where I can’t hear the cars. You would think in Babler that would be difficult to find, but it is possible! I appreciate this oasis of natural beauty so close to where my life happens. I like to hit it up after school on a weekday or on a busy weekend when I don’t have time to go far away. But it’s also a great destination park, with an awesome campground and plenty of pavilions and green spaces for an event. There’s a lot of CCC structures in the park, which is beautiful and historic. They put on some cool programs as well. I take my kids to Babler Rocks! every year, and we are always picnicking in this giant field at the bottom of the hill where the Dogwood/Woodbine trail head is.
The Dogwood trail is my favorite in the park. Dogwood and Woodbine share a trail head and are often hiked together. These trails are notoriously muddy, so keep that in mind if you’re bringing the kids. Dogwood has lots of ups and downs. There’s an offshoot trail spur to see Babler Springs (beautiful!). We hiked this on Christmas day and had a beautiful time.
Virginia Day is another trail I love with my kids. Hawthorn is also super kid-friendly and offers pretty views, especially with the bare trees in the winter time.
Babler offers a lot for families, kids, and individuals. And it’s super convenient, which is one of the reasons it’s one of my faves!
Trails and Our Ratings:
Virginia Day Nature Trail
1.5 miles with an access spur connects to the paved bicycle trail
lots of ups and downs, but nothing extreme- gets your heart rate up
spur off right at the loop beginning to see a couple old CCC structures- my kids love this