MDC offers first steps to discovering nature with fall hiking club

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Saint Louis
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St. Louis, Mo. — If you've got two legs and a hankering to explore, you have all that's necessary to take advantage of one of the best ways to discover the beauty of nature and improve health.

Hiking is an excellent path to both destinations, and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering an easy way to take the first step with its fall hiking club. Participants will be able to explore up to seven conservation areas with a naturalist guide. The seven-guided hikes in the series range from 1.5 to 5 miles in length and encompass varied terrain such as glades, old-growth forest, and rocky outcrops.

Fall offers moderate weather, crisp air, and an always-changing palate of color that makes it one of the best times for hiking. Hikers will take a leisurely pace as they observe the unique features of each area during the two-month hiking program that runs from Sept. 12 through Nov. 15. The hikes will take place on Saturdays and Sundays. Participants are encouraged to bring cameras and guidebooks, as well as wear clothing appropriate for outdoor weather, sturdy walking shoes or boots, and bring water.

The program begins with an informational pre-hike meeting Saturday, Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. and will wrap up with a photo-sharing social Sunday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m., both at MDC's Rockwoods Reservation in Wildwood.

The program is free and open to ages 12 and up. Reservations will be taken for each hike, and participants may attend any number of hikes. Programs start at trail heads; directions will be provided to all participating hikers. Difficulty levels for the hikes are varied and range from moderate to challenging for hiking up to 5 miles over uneven terrain. Information and difficulty ratings are available for each hike at registration.

The schedule for the fall hiking club is as follows:

  • Sept. 12 – 11 a.m.: Pre-Hike Meeting, Rockwoods Reservation Visitor Center, 2751 Glencoe Road
  • Sept. 13 – 1 p.m.: Valley View Glades Natural Area, 2.5 miles
  • Sept. 26 – 11 a.m.: LaBarque Creek Conservation Area, LaBarque Creek Trail, 3 miles
  • Oct. 10 – 11 a.m.: Little Indian Creek Conservation Area, East Loop, 5 miles
  • Oct. 18 – 1 p.m.: Forest 44 Conservation Area, Yellow Trail, 3.5 miles
  • Oct. 31 – 11 a.m.: Engelmann Woods Conservation Area, 1.5 miles
  • Nov. 8 – 1 p.m.: Weldon Spring Conservation Area, Clark Trail, 5 miles
  • Nov. 14 – 11 a.m.: Rockwoods Reservation, Trail Among the Trees, 1.5 miles
  • Nov. 15 – 1 p.m.: Photo-sharing Social, Rockwoods Reservation Visitor Center

Advanced registration is required for each hike by calling 636-458-2236. Reservations for hikes through Oct. 18 are currently open. Reservations for hikes on and after Oct. 31 begin Oct. 16.