St. Louisans don’t have to go out to the country to enjoy fishing and boating. Kirkwood’s Greentree Park, located along the Meramec River, features a boat ramp that provides easy access for getting into the water. “Fishing is popular here, and the boat ramp gets heavy use from fishing boats, canoes and jet skis,” says Murray Pounds, director of St. Louis County Parks and Recreation.

But it’s not just water-lovers who can find something to enjoy at Greentree. The park includes a picnic shelter and lighted athletic fields; walkers, runners and bikers can take a ramble on the mile-long stretch of the Meramec River Greenway Trail, which connects to other trails in adjacent Simpson Park. “The trail connects all the way to the other end of Valley Park, so it’s roughly a 4-mile trail along the river,” Pound says. “The popularity of the trail is growing continually since more and more people have discovered it. It’s been getting a lot of use.”

Speedsters of a different sort also can pursue their passion at Greentree’s remote-controlled car track, which was added in 1986 and is currently operated by the Dirt Burners Remote Controlled Car Track club. The club holds and conducts races on Saturdays, Pound says, but the track is otherwise free and open to the public.

Greentree Park has a history of being a favorite spot for St. Louisans to get their nature fix—the land was once a resort and weekend getaway for city folk, Pound says, but became a park after periodic flooding made the area less popular over time. “Some of the land close to the river was acquired as a result of flood buyouts,” he explains. “The county purchased the bulk of the land on the other side of Marshall Road in the late ’70s with Land and Water Conservation Fund money.”

Thousands of environmentalists head to Greentree the fourth weekend in August for Operation Clean Stream, one of the longest ongoing river-restoration volunteer efforts in the country, Pound says. The event, organized by the Open Space Council for the St. Louis Region, has been held every year since 1967. In 2014, more than 2,200 volunteers helped clean nearly 500 miles of waterway in the Meramec River basin.

Portions of the park remain relatively undeveloped, and plans currently are being developed to create a prairie and wetlands demonstration area, Pound says. If all goes well, it will be completed in the next year or two. “The proposed area is under high tension wires, and as a result, it’s been disturbed in terms of vegetation—with mostly only honeysuckle and other invasive species,” he says. “We’re hoping to create a habitat that doesn’t require the maintenance you would otherwise need, and put trails and walkways through the area.”

when» Year-round
where» 2202 Marshall Road
why» Hit the trails, fish in the Meramec River, play on the athletic fields, or enjoy a number of additional outdoor recreations

Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Parks and Recreation