Best Winter Weekend Getaway at Weldon Spring Conservation Area

By Trent Jonas

Best Winter Weekend Getaway at Weldon Spring Conservation Area

Just west of St. Louis, along the banks of the Mighty Mo, you’ll find Weldon Spring Conservation Area, as well as Howell Island Conservation Area on the opposite shore. Between them, these gorgeous natural areas are the perfect setting for a winter getaway. Pack up your gear and enjoy a retreat to the stunning Weldon Spring Conservation Area in Missouri. 

Camp at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park

Boat-in camping is permitted along the Missouri River at the Weldon Spring Conservation Area, but only between April 1 and September 30. Winter campers can head a couple miles across the river to the year-round campground at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial Park. Although amenities are limited during the winter months, potable water is available year-round from a frost-free spigot in the campground.

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Warm your belly at His & Hers BBQ

When you’re staying out in the cold, a belly full of hot food can help to keep you feeling warm and braced for all the activities your weekend holds. Head just a few minutes north of Weldon Spring Conservation Area, in Dardenne Prairie, to His & Hers BBQ. You will be full and satifised. 

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Put on snowshoes and head for the Hamburg Trail

The Hamburg Hiking and Biking Trail cuts across the Weldon Spring Conservation Area. Start at the Osage Creek trailhead and parking lot and head northeast, tracking the edge of the ridge above the Missouri River and Femme Osage Slough. The trail doesn’t loop, so plan accordingly for this out-and-back hike in the snow.

Hit the slopes at Hidden Valley

Although not usually thought of as a ski destination, Missouri does offer some in-state options for powder fiends. Just a few minutes southeast of Weldon Springs, in Wildwood, you’ll find Hidden Valley ski area. Two terrain parks and 17 trails spread across 65 scalable acres—with more than 300 feet of vertical—will keep you shredding all weekend long.

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Land a lunker

There are several fishing options within Weldon Spring Conservation Area, including the Missouri River, itself, as well as several ponds and creeks. You can expect to catch catfish, black bass, white bass, sunfish and/or crappie in the conservation area’s waters. All state fishing regulations apply in the area. Head over to All In Bait and Tackle (https://all-in-bait-tackle.business.site/) in St. Charles if you need bait, gear or a little advice.

Bag a trophy

Both Weldon Spring and Howell Island Conservation Areas are open to hunting during the posted seasons. The game species available are deer, turkey, dove, rabbit, and squirrel. Check with the Department of Conservation for the most up-to-date regulations on species, seasons or bag limits. Appropriate tags and licenses are required.

Ski the Katy Trail

In winter, when snow covers the Katy Trail, it’s the perfect path for cross-country skiers to get out and stretch their legs. The trail, which extends across most of the state, follows the Missouri River Valley into and through the Weldon Spring Conservation Area, so you can ski ‘til your heart’s content.

Hike the Lewis Hiking Trail

Located within the larger conservation area is the Weldon Spring Hollow Natural Area—almost 400 acres of pristine upland and bottomland forests, along with limestone bluffs and escarpments. The Lewis Hiking Trail system is the best way to explore Weldon Spring Hollow. The trail system forms several loops, so you can hike as much or as little as you choose. 

Fat bike the Lost Valley Trail

Weldon Spring Conservation Area’s Lost Valley Hiking and Biking Trail is an awesome place to get your fat tires snowy (or muddy, as the case may be) while you’re in the area. Like other trails at Weldon Spring, there are several interconnected loops that allow you to explore the natural areas at your own pace and for as much time as you like. 

Fill up at the Brass Rail

After all that outdoor activity, you’re bound to be hungry. Haul yourself into the Brass Rail in O’Fallon, just a few minutes from Weldon Spring Conservation Area. This casual steakhouse offers delicious, scratch-made food in comfortable, low-key atmosphere—just what you need after all that fresh air.

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