Well my husband was on vacation this week so we decided to take a drive yesterday and get some hiking in. We first planned on going to Maramec Spring Park, but due to a lot of rain lately, the park is experiencing minor flooding. So we had to come up with another plan. I have been wanting to go to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park for a while now. This state park is located just south of Columbia, Missouri which is about 2.5 hours from St. Louis.
So we headed out early in hopes of beating the crowds. The park’s main feature is Rock Bridge which the park is aptly named after. The rock bridge is 63 feet high. A nice stroll along the boardwalk on Devil’s Ice Box Trail leads you to the Rock Bridge where you can explore around a bit.
From here, we headed back down the boardwalk to the stairs that lead up to the top of Rock Bridge. The boardwalk continues and leads to a large platform which is the area for Connor’s Cave and Devil’s Ice Box cave systems. The park allows you to explore Connor’s Cave if you have the appropriate equipment while Devil’s Ice Box is closed to the public. Even if you do not plan on exploring Connor’s Cave, hike down the stairs to the beginning of the caves.
As you hike down you can immediately feel the drop in temperature. We walked into the opening of the caves. You have to duck down in the opening to clear a low rock ceiling, but once in a couple feet, there is a crevice above that allows you to stand up straight while the creek runs beneath your feet.
From here, we walked back up the stairs and out of the caves and followed the boardwalk around. At the last viewing platform, instead of heading back up to the Devil’s Ice Box Trail, we hopped off the boardwalk and walked up the rocky hill which is the Spring Brook Trail.
Now I will tell you, I was a bit confused and was having a hard time following the trail maps and figuring out where we were once we were on this trail. There are not really any signs, just colored arrows, but we kept walking and we ended up back at the parking lot.
This is a really beautiful trail with stream crossings and wooded areas. There is a bridge that crosses Little Bonne Femme Creek, but while we were there, it was closed due to damage from recent flooding.
We also hiked the Karst Trail which is primarily a mountain biking trail though some grasslands and forest.
The trail map above was obtained from Missouri State Parks website.
On our way home along Interstate 70, just outside of Danville, is Graham Cave State Park so we decided to stop and check it out. This park is situated along the Loutre River just off the interstate. There are several trails here, but most of them lead directly to the cave. From the parking lot, there is a paved trail that leads directly up to the cave, but we took the natural trail to the right of the parking area. This is a short .3 mile trail which has a couple creek crossings and even a seasonal waterfall. Once up the hill, you get your first peek at the impressive cave. The cave is low and feels like it stretches forever. You can walk into the cave for few feet under the overhang, but it is closed off to preserve archeological evidence.
All in all these are to great examples of Missouri State Parks. Be sure to check out their website for detailed trail maps and a lot of other information.
Have you been to Rock Bridge or Graham Cave? Have any questions? Please leave a comment!