On the agenda for Saturday was the Wilderness Trail at Meramec State Park – a 9-mile loop. This trail has 8 sites where backpackers can camp – rather unusual among Missouri State Parks. The camps were a fair distance off the trail and had iron fire rings. It looked like the park was preparing for a controlled burn as there were fire breaks criss-crossing much of the northern half, so the area might soon look quite a bit different.
The trail was a nice one – certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area. There are several shorter trails too that might be interesting plus Fisher Cave, the river, camping, etc so one could probably keep as busy as desired for a whole weekend there. There were a lot of frost flowers about and they persisted even into early afternoon so I got quite a few more pictures of them.
I had planned to spend the night in the campground but as I hiked I kept thinking about Diana’s Diner just down the road in St James. I’ve heard good things about it, and have been wanting to try it out, but missed them last time I was in the area because they’re closed on Sunday. This was Saturday so I thought “now is my chance”. After the hike I went to St James, got a motel room, took a shower and headed for Diana’s. Unfortunately, they close at 2:00 on Saturday so I missed out again! I headed north of town to Country Bob’s Cafe instead and got lucky – home cooking type food and an all-you-can-eat buffet. There was salad, chicken, catfish, pork ribs, a variety of vegetables, and 12 dessert items and it was all pretty darn good and highly recommended. I went back to the motel to watch back-to-back episodes of “Too Cute” on Animal Planet until I fell asleep.
The next morning I headed for Lake of the Ozarks as planned but decided to skip the Woodland Loop (Patterson Hollow Wild Area) to let my foot heal for the next trip. I picked-up literature for all the trails there, though, and will head back there next summer for sure, for a camping and day-hiking trip.
We’ve stayed at the State Park campsite here, which it should be noted is open year round. That was immediaitely after we finished the Berryman trail. We didn’t find out about the backpacking loop until we’d got the tent up and everything sorted out so we stayed put! How well used did the trail look? We were concerned it might be too popular with day hikers and campsite visitors.
I saw my first flower last year – I hope to see more this year.
The trail seemed well used and well maintained. I saw 3 day hikers and one backpacker, but it was definitely off-season. The backpacker sites are far enough off trail that I think people passing by wouldn’t be a big issue. The sites are not reservable though, so in a busier season you might end up doing the whole loop only to find no vacancies.