Day Hikes

Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park: Suburban Mushroom Heaven

Located 30 miles west of downtown St. Louis, Babler State Park is home to an impressive 2,400-acre old-growth forest ecosystem. Despite the park’s proximity to the suburbs of the city, Babler offers a lovely network of trails and one of the better foraging opportunities in the area. If you are looking for a good leg stretcher, but can’t commit to a day-long hike or one of our excursions, Babler is a wonderful option.

There are several trail options at Babler. The Dogwood, Woodbine, Hawthorn, and Virginia Day trails are 2.0, 1.8, 1.2, and 1.5 miles in length, respectively. You can view these trails (and others) on our trails page. My personal favorite is the Dogwood trail because it is slightly longer and seems to host more of a variety of fungi relative to the other trails. It is important to note, however, that since Babler is a Missouri State Park, you can only collect mushrooms for your own consumption, and you can’t collect more than 2 gallons per trip.

Indian Pipe found during late summer at Babler. This elegant flower is a non-photosynthetic plant that gets all of its food from underground fungi.

Two features worth noting at Babler State Park are Crystal Spring and Babler Spring. Babler Spring can be accessed via a spur trail off of the Dogwood Trail. Clear water will be flowing out of Babler Spring year-round. The springs are just a couple of the wonderful things Babler has to offer.

A chanterelle friend found at Babler.

As the photos above suggest, Babler hosts a lush ecosystem and is home to LOTS of mushrooms. It is a great destination for individuals interested in foraging. If you visit when conditions are prime, you are likely to encounter a diversity of fungi, anxious to greet their next passerby.

Babler also offers a variety of camping options that are reservable and might be quite appealing to the urban nature lover looking for a refreshing overnight experience. The park gate closes at 6 p.m. from November through March and 9 p.m. from April through October, and the park office and visitor center close by 4 p.m.

Whether you just want to get out of the city, go for a jog, or do a nature walk, Babler State Park is a great option for east-central Missourians to re-energize regardless of the season of the year. Go check it out, and if you like it and decide you are looking for something more, feel free to peruse some of our recommended excursions.

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