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St. Louis, MO: Sam Dale Conservation Area

An easy, family-friendly dayhike, this 2.8-mile loop tours the mature forests and wildlife-festooned shores of the Sam Dale Lake Conservation Area.

Rating

Rolling across the north side of the Sam Dale Lake Conservation Area, this 2.8-mile counterclockwise loop is a great addition to fishing or swimming trips to Sam Dale Lake. Begin at the signed trailhead in the area’s northernmost campground and stay left at the trail junctions to follow the loop through pine groves and wild-flower studded woods. The easy path winds under mature oak and across a sandy creek bottom before a brief stretch along an abandoned park road. Continue east to the shore of Sam Dale Lake, a 200-acre fishing hole that’s popular with local anglers.

The second half of the hike stays just inland of the lake—watch for wildlife, including turtles, beaver and wild turkeys—as the trail traces finger-cove contours under an oak-hickory canopy. At mile 2.4, the large nature trail loop closes, but a smaller loop leads left before landing back at the trailhead. This short detour takes you past a massive pin oak (3 feet in diameter) standing alone in a grassy field.

-Mapped by Ted Villare

To Trailhead

From St. Louis, take I-64 E to I-57 N. Exit I-57 onto IL 161 and continue east (IL-161 becomes Hwy. 16). After 21.3 miles, turn left onto County Road 700E and drive 0.9 mile. Turn left into the Sam Dale Recreation Area and continue 2.6 miles to the parking lot at the northernmost camping area.

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