MDC hiking program puts exercise in step with nature

News from the region
Saint Louis
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St. Louis—When it comes to hiking, Kevin McCarthy doesn’t believe in taking it sitting down. That’s why he designed the “Hike for Nature & Hike for Exercise Program” to be a “moving” experience.

“Hike for Nature & Hike for Exercise” is one of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Discover Nature—Families programs. It consists of an initial introduction session, followed by four progressively more challenging hikes scheduled throughout the month of June. The hikes will be hosted by the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles and Rockwoods Reservation in Wildwood.

McCarthy, the Interpretive Site Supervisor for Busch and Rockwoods, said he hopes participants will “learn about local trails and be inspired to get outside more and go for a hike.” He also said “Hike for Nature & Hike for Exercise” would be an ideal way to break in new boots, learn outdoor skills, or get in shape for those planning summer vacations that might involve hiking.

The program is free and open to ages 10 and up. It begins with a “Gear Up” meeting Tuesday, June 7, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Busch Conservation Area, which covers introductory material and sets the stage for the upcoming hikes.

The hikes themselves begin Thursday, June 9, and go through Saturday, July 2. Each hike, except the Green Rock Trail Hike, is offered two times. The schedule is as follows:

June 9 &11, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. = Lime Kiln Loop, Rockwoods Reservation – 3.2 miles

June 16 & 18, 9 a.m. - noon = Clark Trail, Weldon Spring C.A. – 5.3 miles

June 23 & 25, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. = Lost Valley Trail, Weldon Spring C.A. – 10.5 miles

July 2, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. = Green Rock Trail, Rockwoods Range and Reservation – 15 miles

Along the way, Naturalists leading the hikes will offer “on the move” educational programs. The Lime Kiln Loop will include trail ethics, food, water, and call-of-nature considerations. The Clark Trail program will cover trail navigation and compass use. Trail emergencies and “what if” scenarios will be the focus during the Lost Valley Trail hike. Lead Naturalists will also help hikers explore and learn about interesting plants and wildlife encountered on the trip.

McCarthy said the hikes will be about exercise as much as nature. “We want to get their hearts pumping,” he stressed. Leaders will tailor hiking speeds to the participant’s needs, to accommodate those who want a more brisk hike, or those who prefer a more leisurely experience.

For those wishing to pursue a self-guided program on their own schedule, McCarthy is willing to make all information for “Hike for Nature & Hike for Exercise” available on request to anyone interested, including trail maps.

Whether they try it on their own, or go through the program, McCarthy said he hopes participants will enjoy “Hike for Nature & Hike for Exercise” as a personal challenge.

To make reservations for Discover Nature-Families: “Hike for Nature & Hike for Exercise”, or to request self-guided information, call 636-441-4554.