Lone Wolf Loop Trail
This is an easy loop and the shortest hike in Castlewood State Park. Lone Wolf is a mixed-use trail which may have hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. The surface is a well-tended rock or packed earth treadway.
Castlewood State Park straddles the Meramec River in western St. Louis county. The main part of the park is surrounded by the suburb Ballwin. But in the 1920s to 1940s, this whole area was a cool summer retreat for residents of St. Louis. By train, bike or on foot, overheated St. Louisians would trek to this resort filled with cabins, hotels, inns, and clubs (with dormitories). They would swim and boat in the Meramec River. During Prohibition, thirsty patrons would quench their thirst in speakeasies, which later gave way to a thriving tavern business here after repeal. One of these infamous taverns, The Lone Wolf Club, gives this trail its name.
Hiking clockwise from the trailhead, there is a steep ascent for the first quarter mile. The strain is worth it, as you have excellent views of the Meramec River Valley once you’ve climbed the ridge. The Lone Wolf Trail overlaps the popular River Scene Trail during the first part of the hike. Eventually Lone Wolf veers to the right and leaves the River Scene Trail. You will see at least 2 remnants of some of the early buildings from the resort’s heyday along the trail. The loop gradually descends via switchbacks into the Kiefer Creek valley. The final 1/3 of the hike is along the banks of this gently flowing creek.
Like many trails in this part of Missouri, the forest differs by elevation. Ascending and atop the ridge, towering oak and hickory trees are plentiful, with an understory of younger maple and flowering dogwood trees. In the creek valley, sycamore trees thrive, with paw paw and maples providing the understory. Squirrels and ground squirrels inhabit the forest. A variety of birds, including the pileated woodpecker, wood thrush, and ruby-throated hummingbird can be seen along the Lone Wolf Trail.
After entering the main section of Castlewood State Park, follow signs to the parking lot for the trailhead. The Lone Wolf Trail and the River Scene Trail share a parking lot and a trailhead. Since Castlewood is a very busy park, there is additional parking in the larger lots across the park road.
If you bring younger children, hike the loop counter-clockwise so that the easier stroll through the Kiefer Creek valley will start your hike. This part of the trail is found off the northeast corner of the trailhead parking lot. Many families enjoy splashing and exploring in and beside the relatively shallow Kiefer Creek. The gradual ascent up the ridge hiking counter-clockwise is much easier for younger kids. The final descent back to the trailhead/parking lot will not be too steep for most kids.
This is an alternate route for River Scene Trail Loop.
Sights to See
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