Since June, when I relocated further into the heart of St. Louis County, my eyes have been roving Google maps for new places to explore.
One place that repeatedly caught my interest was a park with a rather unusual-sounding (and let’s face it, fun to say) name. Emmenegger Nature Park. Fenced in by the Meremac River and several crisscrossing interstates, this 93-acre piece of land on the edge of Kirkwood seemed like an unusual spot on a map to be labeled as a park, let alone a nature park. I just had to see for myself.
This weekend, I finally got the chance to explore it, in the good company of my obliging husband.
It was a bit of a tight timeline, as the park closes at sunset. The sun was already low in the sky as we were navigating a series of left-hand turns off the interstate and onto a dead-end road that wound, snakelike, back in on itself before depositing us at the park entrance.
At Emmenegger, there is a single trail head at the base of a small parking lot. Only two other cars were present. Not quite knowing what to expect, we parked the car and started in on the trail.
As you can see from the above picture, mostly the path went through thick woods, almost in a figure-eight fashion. At a few points, it crossed over a dry creek bed. Although the St. Louis area has been in a dry spell, we were surprised not to see any water.
The woods were rich with vegetation, vines, old trees, and flowering plants. We didn’t spot any wildlife, save for a toad, but boy did we hear the cicadas. Their cacophony accompanied us all throughout the park.
At one point, we ran into a man who appeared out of the brush, walking briskly and shouldering a large backpack. There seemed to be an actual trail from where he came from, but with little sunlight filtering through the canopy, there wasn’t enough time to investigate further. So we continued on, staying a ways behind the man until he veered to head out to the parking lot.
The trail itself isn’t very long. Our overall hike lasted about twenty minutes. The highlight came near the end, when we discovered a spur that led out to the edge of the Meremac River. I eagerly jumped up onto the dirt path, stopping several times to take pictures.
The view from the riverbank made this trip well worth it. To our right, the river slowly disappeared around the bend. The water almost appeared purple, soaking up the twilight appearance of the sky. To the left, we could plainly see just how close we were to civilization. The interstate we had driven on to get to the park was well within view, with the whooshing of cars reverberating down to our point on the river. As we had been hiking through the woods, just several hundred yards of foliage had deadened that noise. It was easy to forget that we were within the city limits of a suburb.
We soaked up our surroundings for several minutes. It was hard not to linger, but we needed to get going to beat the sunset.
Before we left, I made sure to take one last shot of my husband looking out over the water.
When we loaded ourselves back up into the car and pulled out of the parking lot, we were greeted by a herd of deer that had taken up residence in the park’s green space while we were out walking. They were everywhere.
For the brief dose we experienced of Emmenegger, I’d say it would be a wonderful, easy jaunt to return to when fall colors are in full swing.
Our late summer, late evening walk here was just the first of many excursions to come.
Know Before You Go
Address: 11991 Stoneywood Dr, St. Louis, MO 63122
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Facilities: Pavilion, restrooms, 1.5 miles of paved and unpaved trails
History: Visit the Missouri Department of Conservation for an interesting overview of the park’s history (Would it interest you to know that it was once used as an exotic breeding locale by the St. Louis Zoo?)