In this year of limited association and self-isolation, I have been getting out by myself to visit places that I haven’t been to before.
One of these places is a Missouri Conservation Area known as Engelmann Woods Natural Area, in Franklin County.
I had driven past this area between St. Albans and Labadie, Missouri, on Highway T many times before but had never stopped.
Every time I would tell myself that I was going to check this place out the next time.
So, this time I planned my visit and drove directly there. It is a nice drive through the countryside once I got off of I-44.
Engelmann Woods is an area of rugged hills and home to an old growth forest of mature red and white oaks, basswood, ash, and sugar maples.
Some of the larger trees are three feet in diameter, 100 feet tall and approach an age of 200-years-old.
There are many ferns, spring wildflowers, small creeks, and bluffs in this upland forest. The area borders the Missouri River and consists of 148 acres.
There is a hiking trail through the area that starts at the parking lot as a single trail and after about a half-mile forks into a loop trail.
The trail is fairly easy with several hills and a couple of small creek crossings.
The Missouri Conservation Atlas says that the trail is a .75-mile long trail and the brochure for this area says that the trail is 1.5 miles long.
I came across mile markers every half-mile while I was hiking on this trail.
I still had a way to go on this hike after passing the two-and-a-half mile marker.
I would guess that the actual length of the trail is probably close to a little over two-and-a-half miles unless the mile markers were wrong.
I know that trails are rebuilt or changed or expanded over the years.
Bicycling and horseback riding are prohibited on the trail, as is camping. Hunting and target shooting are also prohibited so this makes a safe hike during deer and turkey season.
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Engelmann Woods was designated a natural area due to its high quality upland forest.