Twice a year the St. Louis County Parks Department puts out a magazine listing their activities for the next six months. I always thumb through it to see if anything looks interesting; that's how Tony and I ended up hiking at Creve Coeur Park last night after dark.
The hike, led by a park ranger, was cheap at only five dollars a person. We were told to bring a flashlight, water and insect repellent. It was a challenge figuring out how to dress for this adventure. The forecast called for 73° at the start of the hike and 66° by the end. I chose to wear jeans and a short sleeved shirt. Just to be on the safe side, I grabbed a lightweight jacket too, which I wore standing around waiting for things to start. Fifteen minutes into the hike the extra layer was too much. I ended up taking it off and tying it around my waist.
We didn't start until 8:30. Not so long ago it would have just been getting dark. Last night, however, it was completely black long before then. It's been a long time since either Tony or I had been to Creve Coeur Park. It took longer to get there than I would have thought, and was a bit challenging in the dark. We pulled in the parking lot at 8:27. Our registration form told us to meet at a set of restrooms, but the park ranger was actually in a pavilion on the other side of the trail.
Although the hike was advertised as "any ages", I figured the late start would keep away very small children. I was right. Besides the two of us, the group consisted of a Sixth Grade Girl Scout troop and their two leaders, a mother-and-grown-son combo, and a family with a girl that looked like she was about nine. The ranger was very friendly, sharing facts about the park and stories of her daily job.
The hike was on a paved running/biking path around the lake. A good portion of the route was treeless, but for a short while we were in a forested area with tall trees on each side. At one point we walked under a bridge that carried the Page Extension into St. Charles County. Even though the road traveled hundreds of feet above us, I could still hear a bit of traffic. On the far side of the lake the path ran parallel (and quite close) to Marine Road. The parks brochure said we'd be walking three miles, but the "Lakeview Loop" Trail we took was closer to four. My feet started getting tired 20 minutes before the end.
On the way out of the park, we drove a different way and ended up on Marine, right past the path we'd just walked on. It was interesting to see things from a different (and faster) perspective.