If you're a fan of the supernatural traveling anywhere near St. Louis, MO, you may want to detour to Wildwood to visit the infamous Zombie Road (aka. Al Foster Trail). This aptly named and presumably haunted destination is appropriately set in the thick of eerie forests.
Zombie Road runs along the Meramec River and is essentially just a foot and bike path, covering a paltry two miles. However, over the years, the trail has earned a reputation as an active center for ghost sightings, paranormal activity, and the unexplained.
Abandoned railway tracks rust under fallen leaves, only adding to the spooky atmosphere. A dark tunnel intimidates approaching visitors as the tracks disappear into the blackness even at mid-day.
The road originally provided access to the Meramec and the railroad, which were important transportation routes in the early 1900s. However, the march of time and modern transport methods led to the Zombie Road falling out of commercial use.
The path was paved some years back, but the surface has since warped and cracked, giving it an appropriate look of disrepair. The trail is closed at night, which is just as well, given all the ghostly activity reportedly happening even in borad daylight.
Granted, night does add to the mysterious environs. If you try to wander the trail after the dark, though, you may have to settle for being spooked by law enforcement officials. It’s illegal to loiter on the trail between dusk and dawn—that time slot is reserved for the spirits to socialize.
Truth be told, Zombie Road supposedly sits on one of the largest Native American burial mounds in the country. Locals tell tales of a host of spirits that includes not only the native residents, but also Rebel soldiers from the Civil War, ghostly children, and industrial workers still wailing in agony after fatal workplace accidents.
Interestingly enough, the road got its name long before Hollywood invented the zombie movie, with references dating back to the 1950s. With ghost sightings, odd happenings, and rumors of ghastly screams, Zombie Road makes for a perfect Halloween outing.
All spooks and zombies aside, Wildwood is a decently+sized town, with a wide range of options for dining and lodging. The Zombie Road—or the Al Foster Trail, formally—is just a 30-minute ride from St . Louis on Highway 50, with a detour on 109 to Wildwood.
The National Museum of Transportation is nearby, boasting more than 190 exhibits covering a lengthy history of planes, trains, and automobiles. The collection is a genuine find for anyone intrigued by engines, locomotion, design, rolling stock, and flight. Here, you can see plenty of it, as the museum has one of the largest collections of transportation vehicles in the world.
If you’re after less paranormal thrills, Six Flags St. Louis is a fun park full of kiddy rides, grown-up roller coasters, and everything stomach-churning in between, along with various miscellaneous attractions. A classic family destination, the Six Flags name is renowned for providing safe and sane entertainment, with something for every member of the family.
Head south of Wildwood after ghost hunting and find a haunt of a different sort. The Route 66 State Park treats you to a refurbished 1935 roadhouse (reminiscent of the type that once populated the famous highway’s shoulders), which serves as the park’s visitor center. Inside are numerous exhibits, historical photos, and information about this iconic American highway.
Facts & Info
Recommended Lodging: Wildwood Hotel
Once you’ve seen enough ghosts and goblins, settle into the unhaunted Wildwood Hotel to relax. This boutique hotel in the heart of Wildwood is a charming French chateau-style establishment with warm European country charm.
There are over 13 miles of hiking trails right outside the front doors. Rooms come with complimentary continental breakfast and free Wi-fi.
An indoor heated pool and a jacuzzi let you relax your muscles after a day of riding. There’s also a fitness center on the property.
The hotel offers plenty of safe parking spots for putting your kickstand down for the night. Pet-friendly rooms are available in case you have Spot in a sidecar.
Best Time to Travel
Wildwood is in the midwest, which means it gets hot and humid in the summer (but with the magical reward of fireflies) and unpredictably wet and cold in winter. Overall, though, the area offers plenty of decent riding days.
The foliage flares up in brilliant colors in fall, and the tourist hordes tend to disappear around October, only returning in spring. This part of the country can be prone to abject weather during storm season, including twisters, so a smart ride will keep track of the weather.