Hiking is generally not an activity for instant-gratification types. Except at Castlewood State Park. Less than ten minutes past the trailhead, you're atop a ridge overlooking the Meramec River Valley nothing but treetops and river for miles
. Separate trails keep bikers from interrupting the view along the high ridge (peppered with benches on scenic overlooks), and a massive wooden staircase leads to the river valley 250 feet below. Castlewood's 1,800 acres boast 15.5 miles of hiking trails, of which the 3-mile River Scene Trail is the most spectacular. From it, different loops allow you to choose the length and altitude of your hike and a thriving deer population will have you feeling close very close to nature, despite Castlewood's location a mere three miles from the center of Ballwin.