One of my favorite bike paths in the area is the Riverfront Trail that runs along the Mississippi from the old Laclede Power Station to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. For me, it represents all that’s good and bad about St. Louis: its industrial and shipping past, its neglect of most things north of Delmar Boulevard, its beautiful vistas, and its (surprising) optimism about the future. The trail is well designed and should provide plenty of connections to St. Louis and Illinois in the future. And the rest stops along the way have water fountains for dogs!
Heading north, the first five or six miles are industrial, and it’s pretty amazing to see and hear all the scrap heaps, coal cars, payloaders, and railroads at work. It can also be pretty smelly and even a little dangerous if you’re not watching at the points where the trail crosses industrial traffic. Running above part of this section is an old train trestle that connects to the McKinley Bridge. Both the bridge and the trestle will soon be open to bike traffic, and there should be pretty amazing views of the Mississippi River, downtown, and smashed up cars from up there. I can’t wait.
The next leg runs along the top of a grassy embankment. There are good opportunities to see turkeys and deer along this stretch. There’s also a good opportunity to get windburned. Mrs. Jason and I were out there on Sunday, biking to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge to have a picnic, and it must have taken us twice as long as normal with the headwind that day. She swears that the wind was so strong it stopped her completely at one point, even though she was still pedaling. This section is also completely exposed to the sun. I, of course, forgot to put on sunscreen this go. Ouch.
After a quaint winding pass through North Riverfront Park, which always seems to be populated with the nicest walkers in the City, the trail comes to the jewel of the bike path–the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. The bridge was an important part of Route 66 because of its unique bend in the middle. Though it closed with the building of the New Chain of Rocks Bridge for I-270 and was unfortunately the site of a gruesome double murder back in 1991, it’s rocking and rolling with bikes, walkers, picnickers, rollerbladers, and the like these days, thanks mostly to the good folks at Trailnet.