Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lonk Elk Park - January 2015

A few weeks back on a particularly warm January Saturday, my wife Emily and I took a hike out at Lone Elk Park. It's a wildlife management area located just a few miles west of the City of St. Louis. You could drive past in a thousand times and never realize the beautiful landscape and animal population just next to Interstate 44. I have vague memories of driving through the park with my family as a child, but I hadn't been there for at least a decade, and was excited to check it out.

In the park, there's a great trail that loops through the entire elk region of the park. The White Bison Trail is approximately 4 miles long and beings and ends at park visitor center. The trail is fairly hilly, but nothing too treacherous. Emily and I knocked out the entire trail in a single afternoon.

Lone Elk Park Map
White Bison Trail
The best part about the trail was the wildlife. About 10 minutes into our hike, I happened to turn around and much to my surprise, the largest elk I have ever seen was laying on the ground about 15 feet away. I told Emily not to make any sudden movements, and very carefully got my camera out.

Elk - Lone Elk Park, Missouri
So maybe a little farther than 15 feet. It seemed pretty close.
It soon became very clear that we were far more frightened of this monster elk than he was of us. There were a ton of people in the park that day, and it was evident that this guy sees people quite a bit. Now, my understanding is that during mating season, bull elk can be quite aggressive and territorial, but luckily for us, mating season was far away. He was the first of many elk we saw that day.

Emily giving an elk a hand
Never pass up a chance for a photography gag.
We completed the entire trail in a few hours, and saw a lot more elk. There is a large lake that the trail circles, and apparently you can fish it by appointment. I'm fairly ignorant to any details beyond that. It's a wide lake and looks like you'd need a boat to fish it properly. It was a great day and aside from an annoying family who wouldn't stop playing with their loud walky-talkys, and a traffic jam that kept us out of bison land, it was a perfect afternoon. I can't wait for another chance to go back there with Emily.

My wife and an elk calf.
"Good monster. Good scary monster."
The St. Louis Country Parks Department has more info on the White Bison Trail here.

The Voss Family at Lone Elk Park

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