Mastodon State Historic Site is just a short drive from St. Louis and makes a perfect day trip. The park is right off of Interstate 55 in Imperial, Missouri.The site is home to the Kimmswick Bone Bed where ice age fossils and even bones from giant mastodons were found.
The park is split into two sections. We visited the picnic area first which has the trail heads for two trails. The parking lot is just off Seckman Road. You will see the trail head for the Spring Branch Trail near the front of the parking lot.
After just a short walk down this trail, is the trailhead for the Limestone Hill Trail. This trail splits off the Spring Branch Trail and crosses over Seckman road and leads to a bluff line. This trail is about 2 miles long and we hiked it clockwise.
The trail leads steadily uphill from here with challenging slopes and rough terrain. The trail is very rocky in parts.
The trail leads up to the top of the hill and then back downward. After passing through the large field, the trail comes to a “T”. The map I had from the Missouri State Parks website did not show a “T”, but we eventually found out that if you go to the left, it leads to the museum parking lot. We headed to the right, following the loop, back toward the way we came. This part of the trail is a lot of fun. It parallels the road, but the rocky outcroppings make it feel like you are miles away from anything.
After finishing out the loop, we met back up with the Spring Branch Trail. By this time, it was pouring, but we hiked the trail anyway and I am glad we did. The trail is a gravel base and an easy stroll through the trees. There are a couple small bridges to cross the creek.
As the trail starts to head back toward the parking lot, it runs along Rock Creek. There are several small trails that allow you to access the creek. Be sure to walk down to it. It is crystal clear.
The trail leisurely winds back to the parking lot.
From here, we hopped back in the car and headed to the other part of the park. The other park of the park has a small museum (it costs $4 to enter) and the trailhead for the Wildflower Trail. This trail is just .4 miles long, but it features the Kimmswick Bone Bed.
After going down to sets of stairs, you arrive at a kiosk with information on the history of the area. The trail heads back through the forest and past several rock outcroppings.
Overall, Mastodon State Historic Site is a great place to hike. It has all levels of trails and is close to St. Louis. Be sure to check it out! The park map was obtained from the Missouri State Parks website.