Franklin County has many gems, some of which are overlooked. It has been my personal experience that some folks are unaware that the Meramec Conservation Area is just past Meramec State Park.
Over the years I have gone there to stroll the trails and enjoy the scenery with my camera. I often share the best photos on social media and friends will comment, “Where is that?”
Many of those friends are people who have visited Meramec State Park, but never realized just outside its boundary are even more recreational opportunities.
Meramec Conservation Area and the Arthur G. Heyne Memorial Annex are easy to access from I-44. Take the Highway 185 south exit at Sullivan. Drive south on Highway 185 for 5 miles. Make sure you go past Meramec State Park to reach your destination.
The area consists of just under 4,000 acres. Most of the land for the area was purchased by the state between 1925 and 1930. However, in 1980 Dorothy Hill donated 166 acres in memory of Arthur G. Heyne.
Just to the west side of the area, you can see the Meramec River as well as the rolling hills that introduce visitors to the northern edge to the Ozarks region of our beautiful state.
There are breathtaking scenic overlooks that provide stunning views. Being able to look out over an expanse that is relatively untouched by so-called progress in the name of subdivisions, streets, billboards, and electric poles is a treat that too many of us take for granted.
The conservation area is mainly forested, which isn’t too much of a shock considering that the state’s first nursery was housed here.
Known as The Meramec Nursery, it opened and began seedling production in 1938. Its focus was hardwood tree and shrub seedlings.