Castlewood State Park is the first place I went to when I started hiking. It was recommended by a coworker who mountain bikes a lot and she thought I would like it. She was right. There are a lot of bikes on the trails, but they are all very polite. I don’t mind the bikes, and I always give the right of way to everyone else honestly. There are 3 main trails from the Castlewood entrance, and I really like the Grotpeter. I generally do it paired with the Rollercoaster that is at the top of the park. Castlewood can be muddy, and with the bikes it can get messy. I don’t mind, you can wash off in the water pretty easily. Yesterday even after a huge rainstorm it was really dry. I was suprised. Some bike guys were talking in the lot on my way out as to which trails would be the least muddy today and I told them everything was good. It has been SO hot in MO this past week that everything just evaporates quickly.
The paths are generally hard packed, but on one side they have a bit of gravel. I got taken out by Cardiac hill which is steep with very loose stone the second time I went for a hike here. I’m still scarred and that was almost 2 months ago! Oh, and I still have bruises too. There is a convenient bench to take a breather at the top and to patch yourself up. See, I do the trail counter clockwise so I go down Cardiac hill. Hence, falling down a freaking hill. I went downhill again today, I will conquer this one dammit. I’ve only climbed it once, maybe next time I’ll do it clockwise. One day I’ll learn to take the connectors that aren’t so steep. The mountain bikers are generally on to something. Duh.
All in all, I love trying new parks but this one is in my top list and I’m glad I went yesterday. I wasn’t in the mood to explore a new unseen park and get lost. I always get a little lost, its my thing. It is close to my house (30 minutes), it has cell reception and isn’t abandoned (for safety) and it has some challenges but is still not “difficult” rated. I can push myself in this park and not fear that I can’t make it back to my car. Loops are essential for me. Sure, it has a lot of bike traffic but some days I don’t mind being around others.