Only 10 miles from the famed Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the 8-mile Grant's Trail is heavily used for recreation and commuting. The trail was named for the former President Ulysses S. Grant, and like the arch, is a monument to westward expansiononly the trail follows a former rail line that helped open up the West to settlement.
The trail corridor runs through several neighborhoods, often just behind people's backyards. Other sections are more wooded with views of ponds, wetlands and Gravois Creek, which it parallels. And there is no shortage of unique sights: Grant's Farm is home to the 1850s four-room log cabin the famed general and president built. Also calling the area home is a host of animals in a special park, including bison, elephants, camels, peacocks and more than 100 other species. The park's most iconic residents, of course, are the Budweiser Clydesdales, since the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch brewing company fame once owned Grant's Farm.
You'll find access to other historical sites along the trail, such as White Haven, another home owned by Grant and now operated by the National Park Service. While at White Haven, Grant approved construction of the Pacific Railroad (later known as the Missouri Pacific Railroad) through his property. Ground was broken for the railway in 1851, and it was billed at the time as "The First Railroad West of the Mississippi." Grant's Trail is built on the former Kirkwood-Carondelet Branch of the rail line.
At trail's end in Kirkwood, you'll find remnants of the town's roots in mid- to late 19th-century buildings, including the refurbished 1893 depot still in use today as an Amtrak train station. An on-street connection, part of the Great River Greenways' Bike St. Louis project, takes travelers from the trailhead to downtown Kirkwood and the depot. In an effort to make the city more bicycle friendly, more than 80 miles of these signed on-street Bike St. Louis routes are available throughout the city.
Plans to extend the trail farther are continuing. Nestled between the Meramec River to the west and the River des Peres to the east, Grant's Trail plays an increasingly key link in the River Ring, a growing 600-mile network of interconnected trails and on-street bicycle routes throughout the St. Louis region.
The trail currently ends only a mile from the River Des Peres Greenway Trail
, which, in turn, will one day reach the Mississippi River Greenway, a major component of the River Ring.
From St. Louis, take I-55 south and exit at Union Road; turn left on Hoffmeister. From 270, take I-55 North and exit at Reavis Barracks Road; go left on Union and right on Hoffmeister.
For more details about where to park, see the local map