To quote Norbert Juma, of Everyday Power, water plays an important role in our world. It is the centerpiece of all life. Despite being soft and humble, it cuts through hard rocks because of its patience and persistence. So, when life throws obstacles in your way, be like water and either cut through them or form a new path that will lead you to your goals and dreams.
With all we’ve been through these last several months, there’s no better time to reconnect with nature and with yourself. And no better place to do that than by a beautiful lake or stream. As Jane Austen puts it: “Where the waters do agree, it is quite wonderful the relief they give.”
The beautiful parks we have in St. Charles County offer a variety of unique, outdoor recreational opportunities – many involving water. With features including white silica sand beaches, boat ramps, kayak and paddleboard rentals, splash parks, cabin and tent camping by the water, and much more, summer is the perfect time to enjoy our numerous County parks and the amenities they offer.
For example, your kids can spend the day at Youth Fishing Day Camp at Broemmelsiek Park, The Park at New Melle Lakes, or Matson Hill Park. Or even take stand-up paddleboard lessons.
During each class, a skilled instructor from the Park Ranger team teaches the basics of the sport. Before heading out to the lake, participants are fitted with the appropriate safety gear and learn about paddleboard equipment. Techniques, such as proper stance for balance and control, various paddle strokes and other important paddling skills are taught. It’s only $10 per person. All participants must know how to swim and those under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Paddleboards, as well as kayaks, can be rented at the new kiosks available at Broemmelsiek, The Park at New Melle Lakes, and Klondike Park. Reservations are made on the Park’s website and are only $10/hour.
If you have your own kayak, canoe, or boat, there are several boat launches for river access, including Hideaway Harbor Park, Riverside Landing, Flatwoods Park and Klondike Park. You can float on the Mississippi, Missouri, or Cuivre rivers.
There’s nothing more fun for kids in the summer than splashing around in water. Most of the County parks have some kind of water play area, but the most unique is probably the Indian Camp Creek Nature Eco Playground. Located near the Lakeside Pavilion at Indian Camp Creek Park, the playground was designed to “celebrate the natural environment of the region,” according to the website.
“Dotting the rocky landscape are stone frogs and a turtle that were created by renowned St. Louis artist Robert Cassilly, who also designed the statues at Turtle Park (located along Highway 40 in St. Louis). Along with the large stone animals, smaller figures depict creatures common to the area such as turtles, frogs and salamanders. Young explorers will delight in digging in the sand, with several surprise finds to uncover. In addition, tracks of animals and fossils found within the park have been captured in the sidewalk surrounding the pavilion and playground. The play area features include 2 slides, a tire swing, and a half-mile asphalt and boardwalk path around the nearby fishing pond.”
Another unique children’s area is the certified Nature Explore Playground at Towne Park. In addition to a large fishing pond, forest-themed playground and a series of interlinked scenic rain gardens for the public to enjoy, one of its 11 different learning stations includes a water bicycle that uses “kid-power” to pump water from, and back to, the lake.
Of course, let’s not forget about our fishermen (and women). The St. Charles County Parks Department allows harvestable fishing in its multiple lakes, ponds and streams. Lakes are stocked with bluegill, bass and catfish. In addition, park visitors can fish the Mississippi using the wheelchair-friendly dock at Webber Lake in Hideaway Harbor Park and Missouri river at several boat launches.
Most of the County parks have hiking trails, some of which feature water. For example, Bangert Island, the 160-acre park on the Missouri River just south of the Blanchette Bridge, features four miles of hiking trails in a series of several small loops about a mile long, including one on sand running along the Missouri River. In addition to hiking, bicycling and birdwatching, park guests can also fish along the banks of the Missouri River that flows below the park - state fishing regulations apply.
If you love moonlight on the water, one way to enjoy that is by camping at one of the parks. There are two types of camping facilities in St. Charles County Parks: camping cabins and tent sites. Six camping cabins are available for rent in Klondike Park, across from the lake. The sturdy cabins that sleep up to eight guests come equipped with a ceiling fan, electrical service and an indoor table. There are also 43 tent sites there, with a maximum of two tents or five guests per location and feature a table and fire ring.
There is also tent camping available at Indian Camp Creek, where one of the many activities available there is playing in the creek or fishing. Situated at the confluence of Big Creek and Indian Camp Creek, fishing is plentiful. A large lake on the property is also stocked with bluegill, bass, and catfish.
As if all that wasn’t enough, another way to enjoy the beautiful lakes at our County parks is to plan your wedding at the newly renovated Landhaus, with The Park at New Melle Lakes as a stunning backdrop. Scheduled to debut later this year, this elegant facility will be available to reserve for your next formal or informal wedding, reunion or party. Overlooking the gorgeous 23-acre lake and fountain, the existing house on the property accommodates more than 100 guests and comes with outdoor seating and lighting. The oversized decorative patio features beautiful stone columns and ornamental railing. Inside is a spacious bride's suite and groom's quarters.
For more information about each park or to register for a program, visit stccparks.org or call 636.949.7535.