St. Louis + Destination


Travel & Nature Photojournalism

Deep into the outskirts of Saint Louis County lies one of Missouri’s oldest conservation areas, Rockwoods Reservation. Offering nearly 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat, Rockwoods Reservation features beautiful streams and springs, open fields, various hiking trails, caves and ample picnic areas. A very peaceful and biologically diverse woodland, Rockwoods is one of my favorite local conservation areas.

Rockwoods Trail Among the Trees

Map of Rockwoods Reservation

Rockwoods Reservation History

Established in the late 1930’s, Rockwoods Reservation is among the oldest wildlife conservation areas in the state of Missouri. Featuring nearly 15 miles of hiking trails, fascinating geological formations and incredibly diverse flora and fauna, Rockwoods has so much to offer to the casual visitor and the experienced outdoors man. Its lush, misty forests are covered in native ferns and wildflowers. Its dark caves provide an ideal, mini-ecosystem for bats and salamanders. The density of the forest and canopy provide food and shelter for deer, raccoons, foxes, countless songbirds and so much more.

Now a protected conservation area, Rockwoods Reservation was once heavily mined for its abundance of limestone. Remnants of rock quarries and heavily eroded and crumbling buildings can be seen along hiking trails. Much of the timber, stone and gravel mined from the Rockwoods area was used to build the surrounding towns and cities. Local businessman Albert P. Greensfelder assisted in the purchase of the land when bankruptcy claimed the Cobb, Wright and Case Mining Company in the early 1930’s. At that point, a fledgling Missouri Department of Conservation acquired Rockwoods Reservation in 1938.

Hiking Trails

Rockwoods Reservation currently offers six hiking trails:

    • Wildlife Habitat Discovery Trail, 0.1 miles
    • Rock Quarry Trail, 2.2 miles
    • Trail Among the Trees, 1.5 miles
    • Lime Kiln Trail, 3.2 miles
    • Green Rock Trail, 3.6 miles
    • Turkey Ridge Trail, 2.0 miles

Today we will explore two trails, the ecologically diverse Rock Quarry Trail and high-elevation Trail Among the Trees.

Rock Quarry Trail


The Rock Quarry Trail is a 2.2 mile trail traversing both gravel and dirt paths. This popular trail features an abundance of beautiful native flora as well as several cave units and flowing creeks. Susceptible to flash flooding due to the close proximity of streams, this path will sometimes be closed due to impassible passages. A well-maintained and interesting trail, many native species of flowers, ferns and fungi can be found along its winding paths. Moderate elevation changes will keep the terrain interesting, with built-in steps made from railroad ties keep the hillier parts of the trail easy to navigate.

Along this path we found a diverse selection of flora. We found a beautiful colony of red and yellow Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) flowers, Miami Mist (Phacelia purshii) and plenty of Broad Beech, Boston, and Maidenhair ferns.

Shallow caves can be accessed from the main trail along the misty valley path. This area is carpeted in various species of ferns and native wildflowers. To access this area, be sure to follow the trail’s long loop option.

Trail Among the Trees


The Trail Among the Trees is a moderate, 1.5 mile loop that is mostly paved. This trail features frequent but gradual elevation changes, access to building ruins and a diverse collection of wildlife. While on this trail we observed rabbits, beavers, Ringneck snakes, Grey Catbirds, Blue-jays and more. Towards the mid-point of the trail visitors can access an overlook to view distant rolling hills.

Rockwoods Reservation is a beautiful place to unwind and enjoy nature. With access to hiking trails, streams and open fields, this is an inviting park perfect for the serious hiker and the casual explorer.


To learn more about Rockwoods Reservation, visit

Sources: Missouri Department of Conservation, St. Louis County Parks, Glencoe Valley Lime Works, Research from Wildwood Historical Society Archives, Wildwood Historical Society

Technical: Fujifilm X100V