August 10, 2017
Over the last year I have been working on a project in celebration of the centennial anniversary of Missouri’s State Parks. For this series I have been traveling to parks around the state, hiking their trails, and photographing the beauty and surprises they contain.
I frequently try to go deep into the Ozark Mountains because the rocky landscape lends to many amazing features like shut-ins and waterfalls. However there are many State parks closer to Saint Louis that I have yet to explore, such as Robertsville State Park.
I have driven past the highway marker for Robertsville SP many times while traveling further south. The park sits at the edge of the Ozark Range, but it mostly consists of bottomlands.
The park is boardered by the Meramec River to the North and West, and the Calvey Creek to the East. Much of the park is with in the flood plane of the Meramec, which leads to the area being very fertile. This attracted many farmers in the 1800's including the family of the areas namesake, Edwards James Roberts. He was 14 when they moved in 1831, and eventually became the largest landowner in the county with 3,000 acres. Because of this, the community that sprung up was named Robetsville.
Along with the farmers, the area also attracted residence from Saint Louis who where looking for a break from city life. A railroad that ran through Robertsville was making daily trips from the city bringing many visitors. Resorts and cottages where opened to cater to them, but after the great depression and World War II tourism began to decline.
A portion of what had been Roberts’ land was used to establish the State Park. The area still draws visitors from the nearby cities, and thanks to the proximity of the Meramec river, Robertsville SP also attracts many water enthusiasts. During the summer it is common to see groups floating down the river in tubes, kayaks, and canoes.
Along with a boat launch into the Meramec, the park also offers campgrounds, picnic areas and pavilions, an old cemetery, and two hiking trails. I explored both trails during my visit, but my first stop was at the Meramec boat Launch.
Much of the park is within the flood plane of the Meramec River, but the water was low the day I was there. Seasonal streams thoughout the park where completely dry, and there was no sight of water at the depth gauge.
The park was pretty quiet while I was there, but I did see a few other people. At the trailhead parking area there was a guy with two dogs who was just leaving. He told me that this was his favorite park to hike, despite the spiders making webs at face height.
The first trail I followed was the Spice Brush Trail, a .8 mile loop exploring the Meramec bottomlands. The trail has a number of bridges that make traversing the landscape easier during the wet season, but because it was dry I was able to climb down into the stream beds for some photos of them.
After completing the short loop, I headed directly across the street to hike the Lost Hill Trail. This 2.6 mile path goes through the only uplands in the park. The “lost hill” was part of another ridge in the area that has been disconnected by erosion.
There were signs of prescribed burns all along the trail. Burns seem to be a common part of Missouri's conservation, as many of the other parks I have visited had visible signs as well. Hawn State Park even had some smoldering piles remaining when I visited last year.
The path quickly dipped from the uplands into more bottomlands surrounding the Calvey Creek. Like the rest of the park, the creek was all but dry. The seasonal creek provides lots of nutrients for life to spring up all around.
While the trail was not difficult, someone took it upon themselves to write motivational quotes on a number of the blaze markings.
As I neared the end, I found a nice composition of burned remains standing among live trees. I really wanted to photograph the scene with sunlight streaming through the canopy, but the sun had gone behind clouds during my hike. I waited for over twenty minutes for it to peek through, but had no such luck.
The remainder of the trail went quickly. As I Drove away, the sun decided to come out again. I didn't want to turn around, plus I figured it would get covered by clouds by the time I made it back to the spot.
The park was pretty cool over all. It wasn't my favorite park that I have been to, but it was fun to explore lowlands for a change. I think it would be nice to visit again in the wet season and see how different it is.
I am continually impressed with the variety of ecosystems Missouri has to offer. While there are no snow capped peaks or dramatic oceanside cliffs, the land has a charm all its own. From the rolling ridges of the Ozarks, to the many rivers and prairies, I am excited to continue exploring the state I now call home.
Thank you for reading about my Visit to Robertsville State Park! If you would like to see more photographs from the trip, head over to my Instagram where I will post a new one every day.
Finally, please take a look at my Etsy page where I am selling a variety of prints. With your support I will be able to continue exploring, creating, and sharing it with you!