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Closure Notice: Please be advised that the Riverfront Trail will be subject to intermittent closures and disruptions at least through the end of 2021 in the area north of the McKinley Bridge due to construction on the Terminal Railroad Bridge project; please see the Great Rivers Greenway site for the latest information on closures before planning your trail outing.
When you think of St. Louis, some iconic images likely come to mind: the Mississippi River, the Gateway Arch, and Lewis and Clark. The St. Louis Riverfront Trail lets you experience all of this and more! Starting just south of the Gateway Arch in downtown, this paved trail is a must-visit.
You begin with what is known locally as the “graffiti wall” along the left side of the trail; its expressive colors and artwork make you want to slow down. On the east side of the trail is the majestic Mississippi River. The trail goes along the riverfront and right next to the Gateway Arch as you pass by downtown. Multiple excursion opportunities dot the trail, from classic sternwheeler riverboat rides to helicopter tours, through this section. If history is your interest, the Lewis and Clark statue on the river adjacent to the trail is worth a stop.
Moving north from downtown, the first well-branded trailhead emerges under the shadows of the former Union Power generating station, which is a historical and beautiful building. The transition of the trail from the bustling downtown area to a more industrial landscape is done tastefully and is an example of well-designed trail development in constricted areas. The large concrete flood walls that are a constant along the river also provide the backdrop for numerous art installations.
The trail takes a meandering path—at times on the inside of the levee, at other times outside the walls—and sometimes you get right on top for a wonderful view of both the working riverfront and the industry that still relies on the storied waterway. Multiple rest stops along the way offer bike racks, interpretive signage, and drinking water.
This stretch offers an interesting opportunity to watch the relationship between the river and industry. Large tugboats push barges with all sorts of cargo as trains run up and down the tracks to a multitude of different commodity industries ready to load or offload the barges. Leaving the heavier industry behind, a few miles of quieter trail let you just enjoy the river and a couple of nice parks before you emerge to one last icon at the end of the trail. The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge marks the northern end of the Riverfront Trail. Part of the historical Route 66, the mile-long bike and pedestrian crossing of the Mississippi River reaches Illinois on the other side.
To reach downtown St. Louis parking from I-55, take Exit 40 for I-44 toward I-70/Kansas St./Walnut St. Follow signs for I-70 W/Kansas City and merge onto I-44. Take Exit 292 toward Washington Ave./Eads Bridge. Continue onto Memorial Drive; then turn west onto Washington Ave. Turn left onto Fourth St., then right onto Convention Plaza/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge. Take an immediate right turn onto Laclede’s Landing Blvd., and then take a right to head south onto Commercial St. A parking garage is on the left. One block away, toward the river, you can walk or bike to the trail, which parallels S. Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd.
To reach the northern trailhead from I-270, take Exit 34 for Riverview Drive and go south 1.7 miles. Turn left onto Spring Garden Drive. The trailhead and parking are located in North Riverfront Park. The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge lies 1.2 miles north of the park and is reachable via the Riverfront Trail.
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