Monthly Archives: September 2017
I have been walking at Emmenegger Park for years. It’s a Kirkwood (MO) City Park on the banks of the Meramec River as the river flows under I-44 a few yards west of I-270. The park is tucked between the two highways, the river, and a rather isolated outer road that winds for a couple miles from Geyer Road, past Powder Valley State Park. If you don’t know that park is there, you are unlikely to stumble upon it. Most people never make it past Powder Valley.
Emmenegger was once ‘the’ Kirkwood city Park. It had a nice pool and bath house, a couple baseball diamonds, a pavillion, and some nice trails. After the flood of 1993 which devastated much of the St. Louis area on both sides of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, the park fell into disuse. The pool was filled in after that. Then, after the floods of last year, the pavillion is gone now as are the baseball diamonds. The trails, luckily, remain.
The entire park is not large with less than two miles of trails. But, they are great trails! There is a creek running through the park, two steep trails – one overlooking the river and one overlooking the outer road. The river overlook has several rock outcroppings offering a place to stop and take in the sights of the river as well as the sounds of the soccer park across the river.
Emmenegger has one other advantage. No bikes! While I love to share the trail with bikes, it’s a relief to have the trails to ourselves from time to time. No hassles with the dog being scared by a bike. No having to step aside into the bushes to allow a bike to pass. No being startled rounding a bend. No having to remind bikers to announce as they come upon me from the rear (which is posted on all trails shared by bikers and walkers).
Emmenegger is a wonder. It’s mostly used by dogwalkers. It has a devoted group of volunteers who cut back the invasive honeysuckle. It remains undiscovered by the masses. So, if you’re interested in walking on a path that’s not ‘beaten’, skip on over to this one. It’s worth it. And it calls me back again and again.
My daughter and I live about a half hour drive (in no traffic) away from one another. Lately we’ve been trying to get together once a week or so for a walk. I have more time on my hands these days, so I try to save her some time by driving to her neck of the woods. Well – if there were woods! While she lives near Forest Park, we have not been able to find my preferred trails – unpaved and covered with mulch, wood chips, or just plain dirt. Forest Park has a few such trails, but they also seem to include at least an equal distance of paved paths. And, there are bikes, strollers, skateboards. Gets too busy for us.
So, I went looking for a suitable place to walk near her. Came up empty for several weeks. Then, one day when my husband and I were running (driving!) errands in that part of town, I saw a street sign that indicated a City Park. After we finished our work, we checked out the park.
What a find! The park is very near a huge mall (The Galleria) and an extremely busy strip mall area, the Promenade. I hate having to deal with the extreme traffic at the Promenade, so I typically steer clear of it as much as possible. Tucked in, down a narrow side street less than a mile from the Galleria and within spitting distance of the Promenade is the MidCounty Y and the park. It’s actually a series of parks – Hanley, Memorial, and a couple others.
The park contains a paved walking trail, picnic areas, gazebos, tennis courts, playgrounds, and assorted other suburban park amenities. I checked the map at the park and learned that there was at least one lengthy trail in the park. I assumed it was paved, but since it was mostly shady and the park was tranquil and lovely, I would be happy to walk there.
Later that day, I met my daughter and we set off for our walk. There were plenty of twists and turns along the trail, plenty of turn left or turn right. We kept exploring and soon discovered that once we crossed a foot bridge over a creek, there were mulch trails amid the trees! It was a lovely day, so we felt compelled to explore as many of these trails as possible. Quite a treat!
Turns out that there are 5 or 6 streets that cross the very busy Brentwood Blvd but dead end after a length of 1-3 blocks. The dead ends are where the park land starts. With no need to trespass on any private property, we were able to walk through a maze of hilly, crisscrossing mulch trails, plotted out under the cover of mature trees. The trails contained foot bridges over creeks and some paths led right down to the water. In an earlier era, there would have been a phenomenal swimming hole under one of the pedestrian bridges. Braver souls than I might still splish and splash around in the creek. My assessment of the creek revealed that there is absolutely no wildlife existing – not a minnow or a tadpole, not a water stridor or a snake, turtle, or frog. Too sad. It would have made a great, almost secret swimming hole, a true gem when you can identify one and use it.
Now, I must phone my buddy who lives on one of the dead end streets there to determine why he never told me about the trails behind his house. He better have a really good explanation for withholding awareness of these trails. I know his boys would have scrambled all over the neighborhood and were experts in what will henceforth be called ‘The Lost Trails Behind Brentwood Place’. He’s got some ‘splaining to do.
While I’m awaiting his explanation – likely to be a convoluted attempt to dig himself out of the dog house he knows he’ll find himself in once I’m done with him. While I’m waiting for all that, I’ll be learning these trails backwards and forewards, up and down, back and forth. This little gem of a park, this little series of 3 or 4 parks strung together throughout the blocks that comprise an industrial park. It turns out that with the anchor of a Y at one end, the dead end streets in nice residential areas, and the light industrial businesses create a uniquely appealing and approachable park setting.
We will continue to explore all the nooks and crannies, happily strolling the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the creek side and foot bridges to get the ‘refill’ that is readily available from a walk in the woods.