ST CHARLES, Mo. — Grab your kayak!
If you live in St. Charles County, there’s a not so hidden gem you may want to check out.
The first of its kind Dardenne Creek Blueway is open and is planning to expand.
5 On Your Side met with Ryan Graham, the director of St. Charles County Parks to talk about the expansion.
“We hope to expand it and get some more miles open… get some additional routes for people to use,” Graham said.
The Dardenne Creek Blueway “water trail” stretches three and a half miles, from 370 Lakeside Park in St. Peters to the Riverside Landing in St. Charles.
But the trail is about to get much longer.
“The next phase of the Dardenne that will take us from Riverside to Lone Wolf Park, we believe that construction should be done hopefully by this fall,” Graham said.
The St. Charles County Parks department said the expansion will also help bring in more first-time visitors to local parks.
“There are just parks all around the Dardenne, and we’re just connecting a lot of parks from here to St. Peters, O’Fallon, Dardenne Prairie,” Graham said.
Phase two of the expansion should extend the water trail another two to three miles.
The 5 On Your Side team took a ride on the Dardenne Blueway.
It’s a peaceful run, but there’s a lot of activity on the banks.
We spoke with Brad, who works in natural resources for St. Charles County.
“You see deer on the banks, and you see blue heron, egrets, a lot of ducks. There are a lot of duck farms around here… there’s a blue heron right there!” he said while driving the boat.
And be sure to look out for occasional fish!
RV spaces and a brand-new playground are open at Riverside Landing with more amenities are on the way.
“We’re putting in a dock that’ll allow you to put in your kayak and make it a little bit easier,” Graham said.
If you don’t own a kayak, don’t worry. You can rent one on the county website and pick it up from a locker at the Riverside Landing park.
A father and son duo spent a morning taking their first trip down the Dardenne Blueway.
“Dad and I love paddling and when I was a kid, we’d go paddling in the summertime… It’s just really great to be out and see what the county is doing,” George Ilse said.
It took three years and a lot of hard work to open the water trail up.
“They removed about 7 dumpsters of debris out of the river,” Graham said.
Even more clearing is being done now to get ready for the expansion, and July’s flash flooding made the job much harder.
“This is probably the third time we’ve rescheduled this interview and the first time we got about 11 inches of rainfall overnight,” Graham told 5 On Your Side.
Along the Dardenne Blueway, you can still see debris from the flash floods caught in some of the trees.
The community may be able to help keep the waterway clean.
“One of the things that we’d really like to do is help out our natural resources team by creating some volunteer bases and organizing some ‘clean stream’ efforts and people can come in and help us maintain some of these blue areas,” Graham said.
The crews clearing out the next sections of the Dardenne Waterway said it takes a lot of work to remove debris from the water.
We’re told things like kid’s toys, soccer nets and trash have been pulled out of the water by workers. Much of the debris is coming into the Dardenne from feeder creeks connected to subdivisions.
The St. Charles County Parks Department encourages people to be mindful of what they leave outside to help protect the wildlife.
The Dardenne expansion has a long way to go.
It will be about 21 miles when it’s all said and done.
A northern and middle route are expected to be added as well, connecting Quiver River and lake St. Louis to the Dardenne Blueway.