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The MCT Bluff Trail is the shortest trail in the Madison County network, but it highlights a feature of regional topography which can be evidenced on several other trails. The American Bottom is a wide and distinct floodplain of the Mississippi River that runs south from Alton, through this area and beyond. On the east, it's bounded by a nearly continuous 80-mile long line of bluffs that are 200-300 feet high. This trail runs along the base of one the clearest examples of these.
At the southern end of the trail is a large sod farm with fertile fields in the floodplain. From there the trail goes on to meet the bluff, right at its intersection with the MCT Nature Trail and University Drive, and you can see for a bit how those two come descending from higher ground. The trail goes on to parallel Stadium Drive, with views of SIUE athletic facilities and farmland all the way to its northern end. About half way along, the Bluff Trail is intersected by the Delyte W. Morris Trail, which traverses the main university campus. From there on, the trail goes through woods, up and down short hills, with only brief glimpses of the adjacent roadway.
This trail is not as busy as many others in Madison County, making it a good one for quieter rides and walks, especially when there's not a lot of student or community activity at the athletic fields.
To reach trail parking and access from I-270, take Exit 9 and go north on Bluff Road. At the stop light, continue straight ahead onto University Drive. Go 0.9 mile and turn left onto Country Club Road. As soon as you cross the lanes of southbound University Drive, turn back right onto Bluff Road. Drive 0.2 mile to the parking lot on the right.
'Twas a busy day on the trail the Saturday we where there. A local charity had a fundraising trail walk from the university stadium to the campus. A little slow going for us, but lots of friendly greetings from the walkers. It was good. We had a chance to talk to one of the Misters Brockmeier who work the sod farm down at the south end of the trail. That was really interesting! And we chatted with several early morning bikers at the south parking lot. Not a long trail, so there was plenty of time to talk to the locals. The panoramic views from the bluff were nice; and we really enjoyed the dense old woods and short hills on the northern half of the trail.
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