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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.
Several miles of this trail (just north of Laclede’s Landing) are currently inaccessible due to adjacent construction. The city has not designated any safe detour routes with signage. Even some parts of the trail that are still accessible are unsafe because the path is buried in industrial debris and gravel. It seems like the industrial neighbors treat this trail like their own personal right-of-way. Such a shame given it’s the city’s longest, contiguous off-street route.
I love this trail for two primary reasons:
- there's hardly anyone ever on it
- it has very long contiguous sections that are great for training on my bike.
This is a long, nothing but sunshine trail. Access to more than one spot for water os needed. There are 1 or 2 spots with water fountains but they didnt work. Water at the Chain of Rocks bridge would be good. Otherwise, bring a couple of goodsize bottles and a camelback.
Please note: there is some free parking at the southern entrance to the trail. The first miles are through an old industrial park, and in the shadow of a tall, concrete levee. As one goes north, it becomes more scenic with more vegetation and views of the Mississippi.
I think it would be helpful if more portablie toilets were on the trail.
It would be much better if there was water available at the Bridge on the North end all the time
Biked the trail near the St. Louis Arch. Very safe, and a dedicated lane each way for bikers and a dif. path for walkers.
Parked in Soulard got on trail by graffiti wall. All paved trail, some debris in areas but nothing major. Aside from bollards but pretty easy to spot those!
Views include: the Riverfront,parks,The Arch, bridges,industrial buildings, recycling plants, tugboats, wildlife(deer, wild turkeys)
City part can be somewhat busy with tourists, runners, cyclists, workers and drivers. Lots of space to navigate though.
We made it to North Riverfront Park (11 miles or so) which has limited view of Chain of Rocks Bridge. I hear the trail is a little bit more difficult from this point, I will update whenever I do it though.
We rode from the Bollinger Trailhead lot north about 5 miles. This trailhead starts next to the Union Power and Steam building. The trail was paved but had some loose gravel dropped on small section from trucks. The first mile hada blend of cow manure and fertilizer smell. Then it cleared up and we had no more smells. It was neat watching the scrap metal being shredded and barges loaded as we rode. Made for a fun easy ride. After the trail we rode up around the Stadium and dome.
This is a wonderful train with a mix of industry and nature. Cycling past trains, loading cranes, and recycling plants with trees, wild turkeys, and of course, the mighty river. Mostly well maintained paved road that works for a road bike. Many groups of cyclists and joggers out and about. Very safe-even groups of Greenway guides and a cycling police officer. Will do again for sure!
Based on some of the other reviews, I didn't expect the trail to be this good! I really had a great time! Beautiful views of the river and surrounding area. I saw deer and turkey walking around! The trail is smooth and well maintained with rest areas every so many miles.
I didn't run across any glass, sticks or the like on the trail, but near the Riverfront Park parking lot, there was a bit of dried mud from the last flood, and a few scattered rocks near a construction company entrance, but nothing to worry about.
Go out and have a great time!
PS For some reason the Riverfront Park entrance was closed on Saturday afternoon!
A little rough for road bike. needs a little love due to flooding. Had a good time.
After reading some of the negative views, my husband and I were hesitant to try this trail. But, we just got back and loved it. We parked on the Illinois side of Chain of Rocks Bridge. During our ride, we never saw any gravel or broken glass on the trail, or cars parked ominously on it, or shady characters lurking somewhere either. And, we even saw a policeman riding a bike on it. We loved the scenery and the industrial sections, too. It seemed very safe and taken care of, not covered with debris. We encountered numerous other bikers and a few walkers. All were pleasant. We can't wait to ride it again soon. We felt very safe.
Don't waste time with it
We rode on the trail and there was a lot of gravel and glass on the trail and feared my tires would puncture. Some areas were not paved and of course all the cars that came on the trail- VERY ANNOYING. There were some people in their cars by the edge of the trail-not sure why they were there and it did not feel safe. I rode with my family and will not ride it again. Didn't see a lot of people riding seemed secluded and made me feel that not a lot of people ride the trail. I will not be riding this trail again- I was very disappointed.
I love this trail. But it seems lately there are a lot of cars driving on the bike path. Most people seem to be fishing. But yesterday when I was riding on the trail, there was an SUV simply parked right in the middle of the bike path, with two black male occupants just sitting there waiting. Not wanting any trouble I rode around the levee wall to avoid any trouble. My questions is why are cars allowed to drive on the bike path? It seems that the trail is getting dangerous because of that.
This trail is my favorite in St. Louis! There are a few challenging hills for beginner riders, but a majority of the trail is flat. The scenery is wonderful! Half nature and half industrial. I will definitely ride this trail regularly.
Fun and muddy ride. Part of the trail remains unfinished. So when it is wet, there's the chance that you and your bike will get pretty dirty. Kind of fragrant in some areas...haha...but a fun ride that is fairly scenic along the Mississippi. Be sure not to leave valuables in your vehicle at the trail head as I have heard stories of break in's. 23+ miles round trip...I'll be back for sure. Happy riding...!
The scenery along this trail ranges from the Chain of Rocks Bridge and historic Route 66 to the industrial remnants of St. Louis, including what was to be an artist's amusement park, left unfinished. At the Northern end of the trail, the going is a little tough as you are forced to make a very quick, fairly steep climb, but the majority of the trail is mostly level and an easy ride. The cyclist road crossing signals are especially nice as they are almost instantaneous.
This trail makes for a nice, relatively short day ride up and back (11 miles each way) or it can be used as part of a loop ride when combined with other area trails, roads or the Metrolink. I prefer to park my car on the Illinois side at the north end across the Chain of Rocks Bridge, where the parking lot is away from populated areas. Reduces potential for theft. I've also used this as part of loop rides. It connects to the Madison County Trail system via the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the north end or via the McKinley Bridge midway along the trail. The McKinley crossing allows for shorter access to the Horseshoe Lake area trail, after a few miles of city street riding on the Illinois side. It also connects directly to an MCT trail along the levee. On the southern end, I've continued a loop by riding across the Eads Bridge and riding through East St Louis or by catching the Metrolink eastbound at the Arch. For example, one can ride the Metrolink to the Memorial Hospital station where a new bike trail called the Metro Bike Link Trail starts and heads east for 7 miles to SWIC.
A real nice trail but I would not advise parking in the provided designated parking area as the bad guys have broken numerous car windows looking for wallets ect. Even though there is a camera mounted nearby it obviously isn't much of a deterrent. This is not to say that it's a guarantee that you will get robbed... as I have parked there numerous times and been ok....the safer bet is 1 block up the street next to the casino lot.
Well worth a look. I've ridden this trail several times and there's always something to see. You ride by the mountains of salt stockpiled for winter, junk yards, railroad yards, until recently the homeless town "Hope Village", the new bridge being built across the Mississippi and much much more! Make sure you take the trail to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge and see the rapids up close! One of my favorite rides.
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