Best Hiking Trails in Lone Elk County Park
Lone Elk Park is a St. Louis County Park located in Valley Park, MO. The park occupies an area of land that was originally used as an ammunition testing facility during World War 2 and the Korean War. Remnants of its past can be seen as you drive or hike throughout the park. When you first enter the gates, you will see a tower on your left-hand side, which is where large-caliber machine guns would be fired into bullet traps for testing. These structures, along with smaller concrete buildings and ricochet shields, are all the remains of the park's past life. Now, the park is home to a very robust Elk and Bison population, along with white-tail deer and other animals native to the area. The main feature of the park is the ability to drive through and observe the animals without needing to leave your car, but there is also a 3-mile "White Bison" trail that gives adventurers a more intimate connection to the wildlife.
Upon entering the park, you will drive around the lake and through a portion of "Elk Hollow" before arriving at a building that houses restrooms and a small visitor center with historical information about the park and its inhabitants. The White Bison trail starts and finishes on either side of this parking lot, offering a convenient place to leave your vehicle and begin your trek. You will also see a sign warning potential hikers of tick and chigger infestations, so make sure you are prepared ahead of time for protection against these insects.
When to Go
For the latest on park hours, visit https://stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-departments/parks/places/lone-elk-park. The park is heavily trafficked in the evenings, but weekdays before 4:00 PM seem to offer less vehicle traffic. Staff feed the animals first thing in the morning, so the best time to view the animals is before 8 a.m.
The park is free and open to the public, with a donation box at the entrance. Fishing is available by reservation, and there are also two shelters you can reserve for events.
Dogs (or any other domestic animal) are not allowed in the park, even if on a leash and in your vehicle.