COVID-19 Will Pass. Greenways Are Here to Stay. St. Louis Knows Why.

In mid-March, COVID-19 drastically changed the way we move through our world. Shelter-in-place orders obligated many of us to work remotely and even homeschool our children. We shifted workflows and grocery store behaviors and redefined what constitutes entertainment or an outing. We continue to grapple with this pandemic and evolve our day-to-day lives.

Since then, we’ve heard from many of you about the impact of the greenways in your own lives. Whether you are working on the front lines or cooped up at home, you’ve turned to our region’s many public spaces for so many different reasons over the past four months.

You’ve told us that you’ve been:

  • Stressed out, anxious, depressed
  • Feeling stuck, confined, limited, stagnant
  • Wrestling with a loss of control and normalcy
  • Worried about staying healthy
  • Reinventing what it means to connect with others

We’ve heard from you that you’ve turned to greenways and parks to:

  • Boost your physical health and get some exercise
  • Connect to nature — remembering that some things, like the seasons, do move forward
  • Get out of the house and get some fresh air, a break from screens and limited movement
  • Make a plan and have some control over how you spend your time — whether it’s a casual walk, setting a new personal record on a run or exploring the region by bicycle
  • Relax in a new setting and do a mental health check-in
  • Have some alone time away from others in your household
  • Have community time, even if distant, seeing others and feeling a sense of belonging
  • Find a literal change of scenery — even if it’s just to read a book or eat a meal
  • Refresh your creative juices or get some perspective
  • Get around town to check on a loved one, get to work or get supplies
  • Experience something with your loved ones that’s free, accessible and fun

Since March, the frequency with which Missourians have visited parks has ballooned by 73% and that trend has carried forward to the greenways as well. From April through June of this year, greenways across the St. Louis region saw a nearly 60% increase in usage compared to the same three months in 2019. Moreover, several greenway segments – including portions of the Dardenne, Meramec and Centennial Greenways – have seen usage more than double during the pandemic.

And if metrics were not enough, your comments on social media have made the value of the greenways during these strange times even more clear.

  • Sunday morning #run along the @GreatRiversSTL River Des Peres Greenway. Thankful for wide paths and sunshine
  • I’m so thankful for the greenways!! They are my go to for runs and walks…and in the last few weeks they are the silver lining in my day. People are doing a great job of following the social distancing rules, thanks for continuing to remind us all.
  • You all do great work and I really love the Greenways and what they do for our community. Keep it up! The Greenways have been a Wonderful Life Saver and a huge help during the covid-19 pandemic.
  • We enjoy greenways for cycling and connecting to areas we wouldn’t normally be able to ride comfortably.
  • Thank you for your work & passion….in an age where families are weakening & screen time soars, these types of projects are needed more than ever. It not only creates a healthier community, it also brings pride, & attracts others to our area.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the original vote that created Great Rivers Greenway. Twenty years ago this November, residents of St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County bought into the idea of a sales tax-funded network of greenways to connect all 120 municipalities. With hundreds of partners and thousands of you, we’ve built 128 miles of greenways (and counting). You’ve shown us time and again you understand what greenways can do for our quality of life and the civic well-being of our region — so much so that you passed another tax initiative in 2013.

We’re not the only proof that people here “get it.” St. Louis boasts some of the most amazing urban green spaces in the world: Forest Park, Citygarden or the Gateway Arch National Park, to name a few. From small-town parks and greenways to our Katy Trail State Park, residents have understood the power of public green space for decades.

People in our region (and our state) support their conservation, trail and parks projects with overwhelming majorities in voter initiatives, volunteerism and fundraising. When something can enhance the health of our economy, our environment and our community members, it’s a worthy investment in our future.

You use the greenways and recognize how they make our region a vibrant place and how our lives are better for having them around. You show up to public meetings and give us valuable input that guides these projects. You donate your time and your financial resources to support the mission. You let us know how we’re doing and hold us accountable.

You, the residents of the St. Louis region, continue to fuel this innovative model to connect three counties with a network of greenways — with conservation projects, amenities and destinations along the way. Eventually, COVID-19 will pass. Thanks to you, the greenways are here to stay.

Conservation at Home-Native Trees and How to Plant Them

Trees are a cornerstone to healthy native habitats and that’s why Great Rivers Greenway likes to plant native trees wherever we can along the greenways. They not only add beauty, but they also provide a valuable resource for native wildlife. You too can help wildlife by planting native trees in your own yard. In this episode of Conservation at Home, we check in with Cory Knoblach, Community Forester for Forest ReLeaf of Missouri to learn more about the value that trees provide to our native ecology and how to choose and plant native trees of your own.


Backgrounds From The Greenways!

Finding yourself online a lot right now? Need a new desktop background or a screen for your Zoom or WebEx calls? Never fear, the greenways are here! Click the thumbnails below to download an image, ready to go so you can pretend you’re out enjoying a sunny day. Stay healthy, St. Louis!

Dardenne Greenway
River des Peres Greenway
Sunset Greenway
Meramec Greenway
Mississippi Greenway
Busch Greenway
Gravois Greenway (Grant’s Trail)














Conservation at Home – Invasive Plants

There are many things you can do at home to help native habitats, and one of the most impactful things you can do is remove any invasive plants that might be lurking in your yard. With their prolific seeding, plants like Bush Honeysuckle can spread to your neighbor’s yards, nearby parks and open spaces, and even our region’s stream banks. But not if you stop them before they have the chance!

Invasive plants are one of the greatest threats to our region’s biodiversity. These plants tend to be prolific seeders, and can quickly overtake woodlands, grasslands and streambanks. They are harmful to the environment, human health and can have devastating economic impacts as well.

Conservation at Home – Citizen Science

Even when sheltering-in-place, we can all pitch in and do our part for conservation, and one fun way to get involved – in your yard, at a nearby park, along a greenway or even out your back window, is through citizen science.

There are lots of ways that you and your family can get involved in citizen science. And to help you get started we have put together a list of citizen science initiatives tracking a wide array of things of interest to conservationists and scientists. You can pitch in and help them out by counting birds, tracking seasonal changes in plants and animals, taking pictures of bees, or even mapping squirrels. No matter which project you choose to participate in, you will be helping conservationists expand their data and understanding of the current state of the natural world.


  • Celebrate Urban Birds– Observe birds at the same time and place for ten minutes, repeat three times, report what you saw!
  • St. Louis Audubon Third Annual Birdathon (May 2020)-During the month of May 2020, observe the birds you see in your yard, outside your window or in a park or green space (make sure the park is open and you maintain a safe distance!) Report your findings here:


  • GLOBE Observer-Your observations help scientists track changes in clouds, water, plants, and other life in support of climate research;take your pick of what you want to observe:
  • ISeeChange- Pick an investigation that scientists are actively researching and add sightings from your own backyard, neighborhood or city:


Invasive Species

  • Midwest Invasive Species Information Network- Be a part of the early detection reporting network for invasive species:

Plant and Animal Lifecycles


Create Your Own

Recommendations for trail users on observing social distancing minimums

The National Recreation and Parks Association provides several recommendations for safe social distancing when in parks or on greenways:

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn.
  • Note that trail and park users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms.
  • Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable.
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect park workers

Great Rivers Greenway COVID-19 Update

In the interest of public health, all scheduled greenway events & volunteer workdays (including Confluence Trash Bash) are postponed through at least May 15, 2020. We look forward to seeing you at a later, safer date.

Our agency is working almost exclusively remotely right now, still available to answer your calls or emails: 314-436-7009 or

As of Wednesday, March 18th, across the globe, many parks and trails remain open, but facilities such as playgrounds or restrooms are closed to limit spread of COVID-19. Dozens of municipalities and other partners operate and maintain the greenways in the St. Louis region; we are doing our best to keep up with any news, event postponing or closures on our website.

Please be thoughtful in your choices, including in public spaces like greenways. If you do choose to go outside, follow CDC recommendations such as to stay home if you are sick, keep 6 feet of distance from others, avoid crowds of 10 people or more, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, and avoid touching your face. Please practice personal responsibility and take steps to protect your own and our community’s health. More recommendations from NRPA here.










Visit our event calendar or Facebook Page for the latest updates.

We will post any closure information or important alerts on each greenway page itself.