Last weekend, I decided to participate in my first group hike. Gabe from Camping Missouri was hosting the hike and when I saw they were going to Vilander Bluff, I knew I couldn’t pass up this chance. This place has been on my “Must Visit” list for a while now.
Vilander Bluff is about and hour and fifteen minutes southwest of St. Louis down Interstate 44. The natural area is within Onondaga Cave State Park and managed my the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The trail starts off from a small parking lot. The 1.25 mile trail is a lollipop style where a short spur leads to a loop.The trail winds its’ way through the woods and gently climbs uphill.
It is important to note that if you just hike this trail and stay on the trail, you will not see the bluffs. Luckily, a guy in our group was able to find the bluffs. About half way through the trail, there is a bench. From the bench, the bluffs are downhill and slightly to the right I believe. I am pretty good with directions, but I was all turned around =) Once you get closer to the edge, there will be a faint trail that hugs a bluff wall and then opens up to an overlook.
From here, you get an expansive view. The river cuts through the land below you while the bluffs rise to your right. The Meramec River flows 218 miles, starting in Salem, Missouri and finally emptying into the Mississippi River. Towering at over 200 feet tall, Vilander Bluff is the highest bluff on the Meramec River.
I think I could have sat up here all day. The view was breathtaking. The view is really worth the extra effort.
I am really glad I hiked this trail with a group. I doubt I would have had the courage to go off and find the bluffs on my own and that would have been a disappointment. El had a great time too! She enjoyed meeting new people.
If you are looking for more hiking in the area, be sure to check out Meramec State Park.