60 Hikes within 60 Miles: St. Louis
by Steve Henry (Menasha Ridge Press)
© 2010 Steve Henry/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.
Walking Fern Trail. We hiked the trail clockwise; beginning with climbing steps and hiking a trail path high in the woods. The height of the trail afforded us some nice views of forest below. The kids liked to ask each other, “What if you fell down THERE?!” The kids had to watch out for roots along the trail that could pose a tripping problem, but otherwise, it was pretty easy terrain. It turns out, we were walking on tall bluffs and above caves. Eventually, we descended some stairs to the marshy floor below. We explored rock outcrops and mossy bluffs. Scott even climbed up one of the bluffs. We had read in our 60 Hikes within 60 Miles (St. Louis) book that there was a cave along the trail that the kids could explore, so we kept our eyes open for it. About 3/4 of the way into our hike we were rewarded by finding a set of stairs that led up to the cave. It twas a great spot to stop and rest. Caitlyn and I explored the cave with a tiny, keychain flashlight. It was about 20-30 ft deep and the floor was pretty muddy. The flashlight didn’t illuminate the cave all at once, so it was a bit eerie trying to make out what the big lumps were in the back of the cave before the light hit them. Turned out, they were just large rocks or lumps of mud. Hard to say, but at least it wasn’t a bear. :) There were no bats or cave crickets; nothing but mud, but it was still fun to do some exploring off the beaten path. After we finished in the cave, it was a short hike through the woods to the parking lot. I think this was a great hike to do with the kids. It was short enough for them not to get tired and packed with enough interesting natural features that they didn’t get bored.
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