Engelmann Woods Natural Area

Distance: 1.9 miles round trip
Location: St. Albans, Missouri
Date: June 23, 2013

The start of the trail along the old road

Engelmann Woods is a 148-acre natural area rising above the south side of the Missouri River in St. Albans Missouri. The area is noted for its old-growth forest, where the trees have never been cut down. Some oldest and largest trees here are three feet in diameter, 100 feet tall, and nearly 200 years old.

One of the largest sycamores

There is a 1.9-mile partial loop trail in the area that begins at a trailhead on a ridge just off of state route T. The trail begins by traveling along the ridge and passing through a power line cut and another clearing. Once past the second clearing you enter the old-growth forest. Still on the ridge, the trail reaches a split for the loop, going counterclockwise around the loop, the trail stays on the ridge for a short distance before steeply descending into the valley below.

While there are old-growth trees throughout the area, some of the largest trees are found within the valley. The largest trees I saw were sycamores, and one had a proportionally enormous vine growing on it. The trail is not heavily used and was somewhat overgrown in the moist valley with wood nettle. Even though I was wearing pants, this plant's stinging hairs were very irritating.

Rocks along the streambed 

As the trail passes through the valley there are a few small rock formations, although most are a short distance off the trail. The trail crosses a small stream in the valley (although it may be dry) and then begins to ascend a ridge parallel to the valley on its west side. On the west-facing side of this ridge the Missouri Department of Conservation has conducted restoration efforts to clear and open up the understory. This is to restore open woodlands that persisted in drier areas prior to fire suppression. After passing the restored area the trail returns to the intersection before following the same route back to the trailhead.

The restored area

See my track on AllTrails for more info.

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