Where to Find the Best Trees in St. Louis
Looking for the best trees in town? You don’t have to be an arborist to appreciate a big beautiful tree. More than just a source of shade, apples or bird nests, trees are living, breathing things that are sucking back carbon dioxide and spitting out oxygen so we can keep on keeping on.
But if keeping you alive and providing shelter and materials (not just for us but of wildlife) isn’t enough, did you know that they can also make us money?
We’re not talking about the elusive money tree – we’re talking about research that shows how living near a park full of trees can boost your home value on average by 5% to 18% and having trees placed strategically in your yard can reduce the outside temperature by up to 7 degrees and also save you money on utilities.
That’s why you better hope you live near one of these great, tree-friendly spots.
Top 5 places with the best trees in St. Louis:
1) Tower Grove Park
Founded by the great St. Louisan (and tree-lover) Henry Shaw, Tower Grove Park is a testament to trees where millions of branches across 289 acres shield you from city life beneath the branches of over 7,500 trees. But what makes this park extra special is Shaw’s dedication to find native trees that thrive in the Lower Mississippi Valley region. Among the 325+ varieties of trees in Tower Grove Park, you’ll find our state tree, the dogwood, and our state flower, the hawthorn. Another interesting addition is the sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum) tree that is also unique to the area.
2) Engleman Woods
See, touch and breathe in history as you walk through the old growth Missouri River hills forest, Engleman Woods. This is one of the few remaining virgin forests in the state of Missouri, and it should come as no surprise that the forest’s namesake George Englemann was a key advisor to Mr. Henry Shaw. Designated a Missouri natural area in 1983, the forest is populated by nice hiking trails that take you past trees that are nearly 200 years old and over 100 feet tall. Expect to see a mix of maples and oaks and dogwoods along your hike.
3) Bellefontaine Cemetery
Not your typical cemetery, Bellefontaine is also a Level II Accredited Arboretum which means that it takes trees pretty seriously. Over 200 varieties among over 5,000 trees provide sanctuary for wildlife and eye candy for any budding arborists. The cemetery features three State Champion Trees, including a 122 feet tall American elm, a 109 feet tall shingle oak and 57 feet tall red mulberry. The diverse collection also contains many unique trees to the area such as the native Southern red oak (Quercus falcata) and osage orange, but also includes foreign trees like the paperbark maple and golden rain tree, native to China.
4) Castlewood State Park
Similar to Engleman Woods, Castlewood has plenty of winding trails along its massive land. Nearly 2,000 acres of trees, trails and wildlife sit alongside the Meramec River featuring a nice dry/mesic Limestone/Dolomite forest on a large bluff overlooking the river, where many different oak and hickory species live. Along with an abundance of hiking trails. Castlewood hosts a World Bird Sanctuary, (something you can find at Tower Grove Park as well.) Unfortunately, the park has a major invasive issue with bush honeysuckle (Lonicera mackii) but a native ecosystem restoration project is underway to protect the forest.
5) Forest Park
Arguably the most famous park in St. Louis, Forest Park is around 500 acres larger than NYC’s Central Park and uses every inch of it to show off the beauty of nature. You can even walk a predetermined path known as the Forest Park Tree Walk where you’ll pass over 90 trees including the cottonwood, shagbark hickory, aspen, dogwood, black cherry, pin oak and by two state champ trees, the largest red buckeye in the state and a cucumber magnolia. It’s just a handful of the 228 different species in the park with more being planted all the time.
St. Louis is surrounded by great woodland areas and parks that display spectacular trees and wildflowers. Tie on some boots, fill your bag with water and start hitting the trails.
Don’t forget: Take some pictures and send us your best tree shots! We can even help answer any questions about the trees you encounter!