Places to Go: MDC’s Beckemeier Conservation Area is a West County nature oasis

News from the region
Saint Louis
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CHESTERFIELD, Mo.—What if you could immerse yourself in a beautiful natural destination with a few minutes to spare at lunchtime, or hike a challenging trail after work and make it home for dinner? 

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) August G. Beckemeier Conservation Area in Chesterfield provides those opportunities.  Beckemeier offers 54 acres of natural seclusion in the middle of West County. Located just off Olive Road, approximately 1.3 miles north of Faust Park and 2.5 miles north of I-64, the conservation area is easy to find. Signage on Olive Road directs motorists to the area’s entrance.

Beckemeier Conservation Area was donated to MDC in 1996 by Minna Waldmann. It was named in honor of her father who originally purchased the land in 1905. The area includes a picnic bench near the parking lot where visitors can relax or enjoy a picnic lunch. 

A three-quarter-mile natural surface trail winds through Beckemeier and leads hikers through some of the area’s 45 acres of forest and a nine-acre open field. The length of the trail may seem deceptively easy, yet there are some steep sections that can offer a good workout. The short length also makes it easy to do multiple laps for visitors looking for exercise in a more scenic setting than a track. Dog walking is another permitted activity, provided four-legged hikers use a leash.

Along the way, the trail treats hikers to pleasant views of the Missouri River valley late fall through spring. An intermittent stream flows in wet weather. During spring and early summer, a variety of woodland wildflowers such as phlox, Dutchman’s breeches, birdfoot violet, and May apples adorn the trailside. Autumn colors deliver another highlight later in the year.

The website, operated by the Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, lists 30 species of birds that have been documented on the area. Birdwatchers should keep an eye out for eastern phoebes, white- and red-eyed vireos, white-throated sparrows, summer tanagers, and the Carolina chickadee.  Woodpeckers—including the hairy, downy, and northern flicker—also make regular appearances. Opportunities for photographers to capture Beckmeier’s wildlife and wildflowers with a camera always present themselves.

August G. Beckemeier Conservation Area is open daily from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m.  Find more information on this area and other outdoor places to go by visiting