New York has their High Line: Paris has the Parc de la Villette. Here in St. Louis, we have the Riverfront Trail. Maybe that’s not a great comparison, but the Riverfront Trail does allow you get a totally different perspective on the City and the riverfront.
This was my first time biking this trail. We set out on a warm, windy December day with bikes rented from Big Shark’s downtown store (there is a new commuter bike station next door) and wound our way from downtown to the trailhead just north of Lumière Place Casino.
One of the first things you pass is a small park that bears the unmistakable touch of Bob Cassilly, near what is planned to be a Visitor Center in the Laclede Power building. This part of the trail is a mixture of imposing turn of the century brick buildings and industrial structures. There’s an urban feel to the landscape as it winds along the city’s concrete floodwall. The trail quickly becomes grittier though no less interesting, with views of the backsides of storage facilities, auto salvage yards, scrap recycling centers and the City Workhouse. It might sound less than idyllic, but view is actually pretty interesting and the trail is well marked and maintained.
As an added bonus these days, you get a close-up view of the construction on the new Mississippi River Bridge.
The trail moves to the top of the levee and you get a view of the riverfront. Business gets sparse enough that you can imagine what the area might have looked like when Lewis and Clark set out on the voyage of discovery. We saw some wildlife – is you consider a pack of stray dogs wildlife. They were very skittish and disappeared into tall grass when we approached.
Around mile 9 the trail bends and you see North Riverfront Park at the northern edge of the City. This area passes near Bob Cassilly’s “CementLand” development. Thanks for all you did for this city Mr. Cassilly – you will be greatly missed.
We biked across the Chain of Rocks Bridge. It is amazing to think that traffic used to squeeze their way past this bridge. It offers a wonderful view back towards downtown. After a quick lunch on the bridge we began the journey back. You get the chance to see a different side of all the things you passed on the way up.
There are so many great (and free) things to do in this town. I was really glad I finally got off the couch and biked the Riverfront Trail. When warmer weather arrives I will definitely go back!