Hikes you can take in the heart of town.
By Kathy Schrenk
on't have time to get out to the backcountry? Try urban hiking, which is just a fancy way of saying hiking in the city. The St. Louis downtown is blessed with parks and public spaces crisscrossed with miles and miles of paved trails. Walk through cultivated gardens and wild forests or past famous architecture and art at some of these sites.
Arch Grounds & St. Louis Riverfront (4 miles)
Seeing the Gateway Arch up close is always awe-inspiring. But head just a bit north or south of the grounds meticulously maintained by the National Park Service, and you'll find hulking industrial buildings, graffiti-covered flood walls, and an unfinished sculpture park filled with artwork by the creator of City Museum. Park near the Arch. To start with the sculpture park, known as Rootwad Park, cut north through the Arch grounds toward the Eads Bridge. Walk up 1st Street, under the bridge, and through Laclede's Landing. 1st Street is closed to cars but walkable past Carr Street. Turn right on Ashley Street (a minimally paved roadway here) and follow the signs to the Mississippi Greenway (Riverfront Trail). You'll pass the old Laclede Power Station and immediately recognize the Cassilly aesthetic if you've ever been to City Museum. Be aware for this northern section that redevelopment projects in Laclede's Landing and near the park are ongoing, so roads and paths may be blocked intermittently. Retrace your steps and walk south from the Arch. You can stroll along the Arch grounds or take the stairs or ramp down to the river. From here, you'll walk along the Mississippi Greenway under the vehicle traffic and train bridges. You'll start to see some impressive art along the tall concrete walls here, less than half a mile from the Arch. The displays change over time, and you might see fish, space creatures, robots, or renderings of presidents. The "Mural Mile" officially starts at Chouteau and Victor avenues.
Forest Park West (3.5 miles)
No discussion of urban hikes in St. Louis would be complete without Forest Park. It's one of the country's great public spaces - even larger than Central Park in Manhattan - and houses some of the region's top cultural attractions. The visitor center is a good place to start a Forest Park adventure. To tour the west side of the park, head south past the tennis courts and then veer right toward Post- Dispatch Lake. You can walk around the lake or use bridges to access Picnic Island as you head toward Art Hill. Veer left to take the path to the south of the art museum to access Kennedy Forest. This section of the park was set aside when Forest Park was established in 1876. Volunteers have been working in recent years to remove
terrain July/August 2020
Standing tall at Rootward Park. Artwork along the Mississippi Greenway.Previous Page