A place I discovered following our stay at Wingate St. Charles, was the Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail. We actually hoped to visit it Sunday morning after checking it out from our hotel, but the weather was unseasonably cold, so we didn’t have a huge urge to climb a 7 story pile of waste without warmer attire.
This meant we pushed back our Nuclear Waste Trail hike by about a month. Now I’m sure all of you reading this are already growing concerned about the fact that I’m talking about hiking around Nuclear Waste, but the best thing about this hike is that it’s completely safe.
This site was home to an explosives factory first, and then a plant that refined uranium for Cold War nuclear bombs, which was then abandoned in the 1960’s. As you can imagine, that left quite a bit of toxic mess. Rather than haul it out, which is both dangerous and expensive, the solution was to entomb the toxic mess.
They have a visitor center that wasn’t open during our visit to the site, but if you visit when it is, you can get a little more history about the area, and also see the layers that make up this mini-mountain just outside. Once upon a time it may have been dangerous to visit the area even with a gas mask and hazmat suit, but now you can hike to get the best view of St. Charles county.
There is plenty of parking below the mini-mountain from there you follow the gravel path to the stairway that leads to the top of the nuclear waste mound.
Once you climb all the stairs and each the top, there are a few benches where you can sit and rest as well as plaques describing the town and views you see spread out before you. This spot claims to be the highest in St. Charles county and the view is quite lovely.
While this isn’t something I’d detour out of my way to visit, it’s a nice little hike with some great views just outside of the St. Louis area, and it certainly has a unique history that you can’t find just anywhere!
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