View Full Version : Great St. Louis Ride--over 45.7 miles of paved path ONE WAY

09-06-2008, 03:54 PM
We discovered 3 great, paved trails in our own backyard!

Great River Road in Alton, IL has an adjacent paved bike path called Sam Vadalabene Bike Path (www.greatriverroad.com/vadalabene.htm) which departs from downtown Alton and goes north to Pere Marquette State Park for 20 miles (40 roundtrip).

If you park in downtown Alton and ride south, you can pick up the mostly paved MCT Confluence Greenway (www.confluencegreenway.org/map.php) and ride approximately 14 miles to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge--a part of the original Rte 66 (www.trailnet.org/trail_main.php). We took a wrong turn and went past the Chain of Rocks and had to go back. However, our plan was to cross over and pick up the Riverfront Trail, which we will do next time.

Riverfront Trail is an immediate left after crossing over the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. It is 11 miles of paved path into downtown St. Louis, ending at the Arch.

Detailed info and pics to follow.

09-06-2008, 04:07 PM
We parked at the Piasa Bird, pronounced (PIE-ah-SAW) if you're from IL! To get there from the south (MO side) cross the famous, 367, Clark Bridge (supposedly a marvelling feat that was on the Discovery channel) and turn left. It's approx 2 miles to the parking lot--you won't miss the bird up on the cliffs on the right.

The first 3-4 miles of paved path parallel the highway and are a little rough, and littered with sticks and rocks. Don't let this discourage you. The path will change into a bike lane on the road for about 8 miles before you reach Grafton. In Grafton, you follow signs onto a road along the river, past the marina and then back across the highway. You then do some small, but fun rolling hills that lead you up into a park overlooking the river. After this, you head out into beautiful, quiet farm land until you get to Pere Marquette park. We stopped here at the camping/picnic area--but I believe you can continue farther up into the park. There is supposed to be a Lodge with an excellent buffet on weekends.

When we turned around to head back, we discovered we had been doing a slow gradual climb--so it was a nice cruise back to the car. Where the bike path is on the road, there is a bike path on both sides--follow the signs to cross back over.

There are plenty of restaurants and a casino in Alton to entertain you when you finish.

09-06-2008, 04:27 PM
The famous Missisippi River Trail is a little sketchy on the Missouri side--we passed over it once while wandering off the Katy in St. Charles and it leads to a very dangerous bridge. However, I believe it parallels the MCT Confluence from Alton. Watch for the green MRT signs.

We parked at Russell Commons Park in Alton. After you come across the 367 bridge from the south, go right, then make your next right on Discovery Road (you can also go left, then left on Ridge Rd, then left back to the parking lot). This path is 18 miles long, but if you want to the Old Chain of Rocks bridge you have to turn off--it is poorly marked and we missed it the first time. But, let me start from the beginning.

The path is mostly paved, with occassional "chip and seal." You head out past the Lock & Dam 26, Hartford Tower and Lewis & Clark museum. At some point, you will reach a gate that says, "walk your bikes across." These are very annoying, but there are only 4--don't let them discourage you. You are up on the levee with a great view of sunflowers and a canal from the river. This is a very quiet trail, we had it mostly to ourselves.

IMPORTANT: you will see a blue sign that says something like "IL scenic trail." Turn LEFT off the Levee here! You will have passed under the 270 bridge and there is another bridge just ahead of you (Canal bridge). The path takes you down and makes a left to get on the bridge. There are bike signs and as you turn right, you will see a sign for "Chouteau Island." There is a separate bike lane and there is very little traffic on the bridge. You then ride across Chouteau Island and the Chain of Rock bridge will appear. CHECK THEIR WEBSITE: The sign says it opens at dusk, but the website says 9:00 am. We rolled up just as they opened.

The Chain of Rocks bridge was an amazing experience. I went just to say I had been there--TrailNet privately funded changing the bridge over for foot and bike traffic. But it was more than I expected. Check the website for special events. Definitely worth the trip.

If you are continuing on the Riverfront trail, make an immediate left at the end of the bridge. You will see a sign. We stopped here at the picnic tables and turned around, but I would have easily headed across the parking lot and picked up another paved path instead. There was a lot of traffic coming up the path from the south--so this path looks busier.

09-06-2008, 04:50 PM
Nice descriptions and I agree those gates are boogers, but doable even with the tandem. You are also correct about being able to go from the Pere Marquette picnic area to the lodge and park welcome center. It's not much further and all on paved trail.

They've just ended for this year, but during the summer Trailnet has the Tuesday night riverfront rides. Free (unless you park in the garage for a dollar) and supported. We go up to the poor firetruck on the chain of rocks bridge and back. Paved trail.

We also ride the trail around Creve Coeur lake, over to the Katy trail, up to St. Charles or the other way to as far as we want to go, and back. The Creve Coeur side is busy. Paved until you reach Katy, then crushed limestone which can be very dusty.

Grant's trail starts in Oakland (near Kirkwood) on Holmes ave and goes to Orlando Gardens (55/Union area) and back. There are several trailheads along the path. There's a side trail that takes you up a hill to a short loop in Clydesdale park, another short side trail that takes you along a creek, a bmx area near Orlando Gardens and Grant's farm is also accessible and has a bike rack (weekends only). This trail is busy. Paved.

Trailnet.org has maps of area trails. Also check out the MCT trails in Illinois. Great paved trails, most sections not too busy.

06-18-2009, 06:32 PM
I grew up in north St. Louis County and remember my Mom and Dad loading up our bikes into the truck and going to the Chain of Rocks Bridge (in Illinois) so we could ride across and back. At that time, it wasn't connected to any trails on the MO side. We would also ride along the canals. After the trail was extended to downtown St. Louis, I rode about halfway there a few times. It is a great trail.

06-18-2009, 06:39 PM
I grew up in South County and remember when we used to DRIVE across the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

It is pretty neat now. Miles and miles of cycling paths.

06-19-2009, 06:26 AM
Recently, we came head to head with a parade of antique cars driving Route 66 (they made arrangements with Trailnet to get across). I don't know who was more intrigued--us checking out the cars, or the cars checking us out. It was mutual curiousity :D

Guess I need to keep working on this thread!

06-21-2009, 03:21 PM
There is a new greenway spur that connects to the Katy Trail in O'Fallon, MO. It's quicker and easier than taking Hwy 40 to Hwy 94 South to the Weldon Springs trailhead.

To get there: From Highway 40/64 West (toward Wentzville), exit at
Missouri Research Park Drive, Exit #11 (first exit past Daniel Boone Bridge).
Bear right and cross over the overpass and enter Missouri Research Park. At the stop sign, look to your left. There's a greenway sign and a sign Duckett Creek Sanitary District. Make a hard left (180) and head down the hill. The trail entrance and parking is just before the Sanitary Station.

It is 0.7 down to the Katy--you are 4.5 miles east of Weldon Springs trailhead.

06-28-2009, 04:18 PM
Trailnet.org has great fun rides. We've done their Ride the Rivers Century and Chain of Rocks Bridge Birthday Bash.