St. Louis County has many great parks, but one of the most unique parks is Lone Elk County Park. Situated along Interstate 44, this area is hidden in plain sight. Within this park, elk and bison roam and visitors can either drive or hike through the park to catch a glimpse of these large animals.
I have always wanted to hike here, but dogs are not allowed (even within vehicles) so I usually opted to go somewhere that Ellie could come as well. However, Nicole and I volunteered to do trail maintenance at the World Bird Sanctuary which is right next door in honor of National Public Lands Day. We figured this was the perfect time to hike here since the pups were at home and we were so close.
We drove into the park and as soon as we entered the park, we saw an elk standing right next to the road. We followed the one-way road to the Visitor’s Center and parked there. You can hop on the White Bison Trail from here and hike a 4 mile loop around the park. The trail is rated as strenuous due to some steep inclines, but I thought it was more moderate.
I am notorious for hiking with my head down and watching my footing so I was telling Nicole, “We have to keep our eyes open on this hike in case we run into some elk”. Nicole said “Oh, I am sure we will see a huge elk standing in the woods LOL”. With that being said, we headed into the woods. After about 15 minutes, we were hiking and talk about something random and I happened to look over and said “Oh look, there’s a deer!”. We then look in front of us and emerging from a grove of pawpaw trees is a herd of three elk! I slowly took shelter behind a tree/Nicole and two more males emerged! LOL!
Was I a little scared…yes…they are wild animals, but this was the experience I was hoping for by hiking here! They walked off the trail and up the hill peacefully and let us continue on our hike.
P.S. It is recommended that you keep a safe distance between you and the elk. Luckily, I remembered to grab my zoom camera lens which allowed me to get some closer shots.
The lake soon came into view and we saw an elk taking a bath in the lake! It was pretty cool to watch him for a bit.
We finished up our hike and we were standing at our cars getting ready to leave. I opened up my rear hatch and remembered I had a box full of old pictures in there. I pulled out a few and most of them were of Nicole and me. We have been friends for almost 25 years! We decided to take a picture with a picture of us from our days of playing high school tennis. I am lucky to be her friend and so happy that we have remained friends and share the same passion in life!
One of the other trails in this area is the Chubb Trail. An out an back trail links Lone Elk County Park with West Tyson County Park. You can see my blog post HERE!