Lots of parks offer woodland trails, river bottoms, fishing lakes, open prairies, old homesteads, eco-themed playgrounds, disc golf courses and group camping facilities, but rarely does one single property, which makes Indian Camp Creek Park in St. Charles County exceedingly appealing.
Drive in through the distinctive arrow-shaped gates on any warm day, and you’ll likely see kids splashing around in the eponymous creek, so named because of a former Native American settlement near its course. The front of the park is the main activity zone for families and features a playground with swings, slides and restrooms. Not far down the gently curving road, the fishing lake and pavilion are perfect for large group outings. Here, big frog and turtle sculptures, a water sprayer and a shallow creek bed allow for unstructured play. A nearby cemetery honoring the Cannon family has headstones dating to the early 19th century.
Further west into the park, you can climb to the top of a restored grain silo, now an observation tower, and gaze over the prairies, forested hills and protected habitat that make up the bulk of the 603 acres. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the deer, turkey and other wildlife that call the land home. A unique “ghost structure” rises from the footprint of a log cabin believed to have been built in the late 1800s. Much more recent, a state-of-the-art disc golf course provides long and short tee pads at each hole, as well as three pin placements that are rotated throughout the year.
With so many amenities, you might believe Indian Camp Creek Park to be overbuilt, but St. Charles County Parks has done a commendable job of limiting infrastructure and leaving vast areas for natural habitat. Future plans call for the establishment of Toth Nature Preserve on the property, to protect the native animal and plant species found in the park.
Into the Woods
Between hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and equestrians, it’s not unusual to see outdoor enthusiasts darting among the trees year-round. Indian Camp Creek Park boasts more than 10 miles of multi-use trails, and it has become a popular destination for group outings and events. Indeed, the Sunset Sizzler and Dances with Singletrack mountain bike races and the Dark 2 Dawn and Flint Ridge trail races use the paths here annually.
At 6 miles, Cannon Trail is the longest of five trails on site and more or less encircles the park. It consists primarily of wooded single-track sections, with some rocks and roots, short climbs and downhills, and open-field and road crossings — nothing too technical or unsafe for the average beginner/intermediate user. Trailhead parking can be found at the first lot on the right upon crossing the bridge about a mile from the park’s entrance.
Near Big Creek on the northern perimeter of the park, Cannon Trail intersects with both Toth Trail (0.5 miles) and Big Creek Trail (0.9 miles). The former connects to the equestrian parking lot, which offers a big area for trailers and a kiosk with a trail map; the latter twists through the flat, forested bottomlands near the water. Flint Ridge Trail (0.9) and Great Plains Trail (0.3) lie in the center of the park and present users with a mix of dirt and rock surface; both also connect to Cannon Trail.
St. Charles County Parks closely monitors its trails and operates a Rainout Hotline telling the current status of the trails in all of its parks. Call 636-707-0011 or visit sccmo.org to view online, sign up for alerts or use the free app in order to ensure the trail you wish to use is open.
From Interstate 70, go north on U.S. Route 40/61 for approximately 7 miles to Dietrich Road (the first left after passing Highway W). Turn west (left) on Dietrich Road. The park entrance will be about 3/4-mile further west on your right.
Location: 2679 Dietrich Rd., Foristell, Mo.
Hours: Opens at 7 a.m. and closes 30 minutes after sunset
Length: 10+ miles of multi-use trails
Surface: Natural surface
Best for: Running, walking, hiking, biking and equestrian
Parking: Lots available throughout the park
Amenities: Water, restrooms, picnic shelters, lakeside pavilion, group camping area, playgrounds, creek, disc golf course, fishing lake, observation tower/homestead
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.