Silver Mines Recreation Area is located just outside of Fredericktown, Missouri which is about an hour and a half south of St. Louis. This rugged area is part of the Mark Twain National Forest and centered around the St. Francois River.
The area is named after the Einstein Silver Mining Company that operated between 1877 and 1946. We parked at the area labeled “Take Out Parking Area” on the map below. There is a $2 self-pay fee per car…it is just $2, so go ahead and pay it =) We first hiked the north side trail. Just past the restrooms is a trail that leads to the dam.
^ Nicole and Dexter checking out the view ^
Keep an eye out to your left for the dam. The trail continues to go straight so once you see the dam, find the trail that leads down to it. Large, smooth rocks jut out into the St. Francois River.
We sat here and ate lunch while enjoying the view. The dam is a really neat historic structure. The dam breached many years ago leaving a large opening for the river to flow through. Since the water levels were fairly low, we decided to cross the river and climb up the dam.
After much negotiation of the slippery rocks, my friend and the two dogs made it across…now it was my turn. I only had to cross a small section of river, probably just over a foot wide, but the current was swift, the rocks were slippery, the river was deep and of course I had left my trusty hiking poles in the car. I was too scared and had to abandon that idea. I went up stream a little ways and waded across the river to the dam where the current was not as swift. I finally rejoined my friend and the pups and we walked across the top of the dam. The view from on top is pretty awesome.
Now we were on the south side trails and the next part of the trail was made up of tailings from the ceased mining operations. These rocks are loose and can shift easily so be careful, but be sure to turn around and check out the view!
The trail winds through old hardwood forests and past the “Air Conditioner”. This is an old mine shaft that cold air spills out from. There are even benches inside to enjoy the cool air on a hot day, but while we were there, tere was some standing water inside so we headed on. The trail ends at a paved road. We walked to the left and crossed over the low water bridge back to the parking lot.
I am so glad I finally got to visit this place. It had been on my list for a while now of a place to visit. Be sure to check out the Castor River Shut-Ins and Millstream Gardens that are just a short drive away. Any questions? Please leave a comment below!