Native Lifeways on the Greenways

The Great Rivers Greenway network of greenways throughout the St. Louis region are located on land stewarded by Native American people throughout generations. The relationship between Native American people and the ancestral land endures and contributes to the vitality of the region today. These native people had relationships with the plants, pollinators and wildlife within our region.

Great Rivers Greenway partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council to produce a series of short videos that highlight the interconnection between people, land, waterways, plants and pollinators. Each of these Native Lifeways on the Greenways videos focus on a different greenway and the surrounding native plant life. View each of these videos below:

Submit your comments about Centennial Greenway for federal funding consideration

Through September 24, 2020, you have the chance to submit your comments about projects that seek federal funding through East-West Gateway’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP funds can be used for projects such as bicycle and pedestrian facilities, Safe Routes to School infrastructure or programming, community improvement and environmental mitigation activities, and preservation of historic transportation facilities.

We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible – use the form below to send your feedback on this greenway project. We also encourage you to look through their full list (there are several of our partners seeking funding on greenway projects) and give any feedback you have on any or all of the opportunities. It only takes a moment and is a great way to make sure your voice is heard. East-West Gateway staff will evaluate the feedback, applications and make recommendations in January 2021 to the Transportation Planning Committee.

Submit your comments about Brickline Greenway for federal funding consideration

Through September 24, 2020, you have the chance to submit your comments about projects that seek federal funding through East-West Gateway’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP funds can be used for projects such as bicycle and pedestrian facilities, Safe Routes to School infrastructure or programming, community improvement and environmental mitigation activities, and preservation of historic transportation facilities.

We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible – use the form below to send your feedback on this greenway project. We also encourage you to look through their full list (there are several of our partners seeking funding on greenway projects) and give any feedback you have on any or all of the opportunities. It only takes a moment and is a great way to make sure your voice is heard. East-West Gateway staff will evaluate the feedback, applications and make recommendations in January 2021 to the Transportation Planning Committee.

Trojan Park Wins National Award & Cash Prize!

Great Rivers Greenway, City of Wellston, Beyond Housing, National Recreation & Parks Association, St. Louis County Parks and all of the other partners, vendors and community members that helped to bring Trojan Park to life are honored to share that the park is one of the two Urban Land Institute’s 2020 Urban Open Space Award Winners!

Not only is this a great honor to be recognized among world-class parks, but this award also comes with a gift of $10,000, which will go to the Great Rivers Greenway Foundation to support operations and maintenance of Trojan Park. (See the other 8 amazing parks across the country selected as finalists from 50 applicants.)

If you have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Trojan Park, it’s part of the St. Vincent Greenway in Wellston, at Skinker & Etzel. The best part about this park is how many people use and love it. The second best part is how many partners came together to make it happen. You can read about it, see photos and watch a video right here: https://greatriversgreenway.org/trojan/.

“Equitably accessible quality open spaces are increasingly understood as vital to the physical, social and economic health of urban neighborhoods,” said Jury Chairman Antonio Fiol-Silva, founding principal of SITIO architecture + urbanism in Philadelphia.  “In their own particular contexts Domino and Trojan Parks are two brilliant examples of the profoundly positive impact that such spaces can have in the lives of their communities.  That both civic spaces are the product of private sector initiatives makes then even more remarkable.”

Read the full press release from Urban Land Institute (ULI) here: https://americas.uli.org/200909uosawinners/

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.

Greenway Getaway: Confluence of Meramec and Western Greenways

River Views, Soaring Bluffs, Sunshine & Shade

If you’ve never explored the confluence of the Western and Meramec Greenways, now is the time to plan a trip!  There are a variety of things to see and do along the way, so we’ve compiled a list of options so you can build your own adventure.


Meramec Greenway: Glencoe to Sherman Beach Park
This greenway stretches from Sherman Beach in southwest St. Louis County along the river to Glencoe with a spur north called Rock Hollow. There are several trails that connect along this stretch of the Meramec Greenway, making it possible to walk or bike for several miles on paved and unpaved paths surrounding the Meramec River. You will enjoy outstanding views of the river and riverfront forest as you connect to Rockwoods Reservation, Sherman Beach and Castlewood State Park.



Rock Hollow Trail. (2.2 miles)

This 2.2 mile spur (paved) stretches from atop Ridge Road, 2.2 miles down the bluff where it connects to the Meramec Greenway and Al Foster Trail. If you love a hill, you will love this paved spur!  You can park at Ridge Meadows Elementary School (777 Ridge Rd, Ballwin, MO 63021) and walk or ride your bike down the hill and back for a round trip of 4.4 miles. Once you reach the bottom of the trail, you can also connect to the Al Foster Trail.

One word of caution: if you are pushing a stroller, or riding with younger children—the trip back up the hill may not be as much fun! Another option is to connect to the Rock Hollow trail via the Al Foster trail.  Park at the trailhead (225 Grand Ave, Wildwood, MO 63038) and walk one mile on the Al Foster Trail to its connection with the Rock Hollow Trail.


Al Foster Trail (5.5 miles)

The Al Foster Trail lies within the Meramec Greenway and stretches from the trailhead on Grand Avenue near the intersection of Old State road and Highway 109 by the Wabash, Frisco and Pacific miniature railroad (closed for 2020 season due to COVID-19) to Sherman Beach. It offers amazing view of the Meramec River and soaring limestone bluffs.  Please note that the trail surface for the first 3 miles from Glencoe to Sherman beach is made of compacted rock. As it nears Castlewood Park, it transitions from rock to dirt and narrows significantly. If you are on a bike you will need to turn around at Sherman Beach. You can use a road bike on the Al Foster Trail (with narrower tires), just be careful after it rains and use caution when crossing the Wabash, Frisco and Pacific railroad tracks.  A complete trail washout has occurred at the Castlewood Narrows section of the trail within Castlewood State Park. Choose your shoes accordingly!



Western  Greenway: Rockwoods Reservation to Meramec Greenway (1.6 miles)

There is a 1.6 mile asphalt trail that currently extends from Grand Avenue between Glencoe City Park (421 Grand Avenue, Glencoe, MO 63038) and the Al Foster Trail head to Rockwoods Reservation.

 

Also known as the Hamilton Carr Trail, it features two tunnels; one under Old State road and the other under Highway 109. This makes it much safer to cross these busy roads. Once you reach Rockwoods Reservation, you can explore one of six hiking trails within this conservation area.  Click here for more information about Rockwoods Reservation.


Other things to know when planning your trip:

If you are not feeling well, please stay home! Please keep at least six feet distance from other people you pass along the greenway or at trailheads.

The Trailhead and parking for both the Western Greenway and Meramec Greenway is located at 225 Grand Avenue, Wildwood, MO 63038. There are portable restrooms available at this location. Please bring your own hand sanitizer!

Parking is available at Glencoe City Park, 421 Grand Avenue in Glencoe.  This is just .25 miles down the street from the Al Foster Trailhead. Restrooms and playground are temporarily closed at this location.

The Wabash, Frisco and Pacific Railroad tracks run along the Al Foster Trail; the railroad is closed for the 2020 season due to COVID-19.

The area surrounding the Al Foster Memorial Trail has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Many songbird and woodland warbler species are drawn to nest and feed in the secluded forest habitat.

Pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

River Des Peres Greenway Bridge Update

On August 7, after nearly a year of waiting for water levels to drop, we finally set the critical span of the bridge (2nd of 3) that will link the River des Peres and Gravois Greenways. We’ve still got work to do in the channel and setting the last part of the bridge before it is ready for you to walk, run or bike across. We can’t wait!

The next steps will be setting rebar and pouring the concrete bridge deck to ensure a smooth walk, run or ride. Because the center span of the bridge is 176 feet long and weighs just under 36 tons, it required two cranes positioned on the river bed to set it in place. Crews will need to remove the access road we built down into the channel along with two gravel pads needed to keep the cranes supported and level. After we restore the riverbank, we’ll slide in the last piece of the bridge and complete the bridge deck. Like all construction projects, this work is weather dependent and nature will choose the grand opening date. We’ll keep you posted on when you can explore and enjoy this new connection!

 

Birdwatching on the Greenways

Birdwatching is a hobby that combines fresh air, exercise, and beautiful scenery wrapped up in a treasure hunt. Not only that, birdwatching has no age limitations, requires minimal equipment and gives everyone the opportunity to be a citizen-scientist.  The only word of caution from experienced birdwatchers is that once you start, it can become addicting!

Greenways are great places for birdwatching. In fact, several have been recognized by the Audubon Society as “important bird areas.” We asked the St. Louis Audubon Society to recommend the best greenways for spotting a wide variety of birds along with some tips for beginners.


Best Greenways for Birdwatching

Fee Fee Greenway: Aquaport to Creve Coeur Park

The best place for spotting birds along this greenway is the area from McKelvey Woods to Creve Coeur Park. It meanders through what is known as an “edge habitat”—the space between a developed area and a natural habitat. The greenway’s location on a prairie flood plain near the Missouri River provides food and refuge for many migrating waders, waterfowl, and shorebirds.

Meramec Greenway near the Al Foster Trail

The section of the Meremec Greenway near the Al Foster trail lies within a bottomland forest and is considered an important bird area by the Audubon Society. It provides habitat for breeding forest birds, such as the Red-shouldered Hawk and Prothonotary Warbler. You can find all 107 species of birds that have been recorded in this birding “hotspot” on ebird.

River des Peres Greenway at Carondelet Park

Carondelet Park is on the eastern end of the River des Peres Greenway. This historic, 179-acre park provides stopover habitat for many migrating species in spring and fall. It also provides some breeding habitat for many birds excluded from the surrounding urban landscape (e.g., hawks and owls). The Audubon Society recently recorded 29 different species of birds on a single early-morning beginner bird walk in Carondelet Park!

Busch Greenway: Katy Trail to Missouri Research Park to August A. Busch Conservation Area

A good portion of the Busch Greenway passes through second-growth upland and bottomland forest, shrubland, and cropland areas managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. All of this great breeding and stopover habitat means great birdwatching! If you want to see lots of birds, focus on the area between the Duckett Creek trail head and Katy Trail or the section that stretches between Weldon Spring and August A. Busch Conservation areas.


Birdwatching for Beginners: What do you need?

  • A pair of binoculars
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • A field guide to birds. There are several options:
    • The Audubon Society has a list of recommended field guides here. You can also borrow one for free from your local library!
    • If you prefer to use an app on your phone, Cornell Lab of Ornithology has created the Merlin Bird Identification App. It prompts you to answer five questions about the bird you have seen and it offers suggestions about what kind of bird it is based on your location. Learn more about Merlin here.

The Audubon Society also has a free app for identifying birds. Learn more about the Audubon Society app here: https://www.audubon.org/app


Birdwatching Tips

  • Walk slowly
  • Use quiet voices; no shouting
  • Smaller groups are better
  • Observe; do not interact with the birds
  • Look low along the ground in “shrubby” areas and high up in the tree tops
  • Listen carefully (If you want to familiarize yourself with different bird songs, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology “All about Birds” field guide. You can enter the name of the bird and hear their song. Find it here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/ )

Become a Citizen Scientist: Share the birds you have seen on the greenways!

eBird is the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project, with more than 100 million bird sightings contributed each year by eBirders around the world. This collaborative effort is managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  eBird lets you:

  • Keep track of your bird lists, photos, and sounds
  • Explore latest sightings from around the world
  • Join the world’s largest birding community
  • Contribute to science and conservation
  • Find the latest bird hots spots in your area
  • Track migration of birds through your area

Registration on eBird is free and it an excellent resource for beginning and expert birdwatchers alike. Click here to learn more about ebird.

 

 

Greenway Getaway: Bike Stop Cafe Chesterfield to Bike Stop Cafe St. Charles

If you love sweet treats, fresh food, the KATY Trail, river views and a longer ride (18+ miles), we’ve got the perfect greenway getaway for you!

This route takes you from the Bike Stop Café in Chesterfield to the Bike Stop Café in St. Charles. You’ll travel along the Missouri Greenway: Monarch Chesterfield Levee; cross over the river on the bike path on the Boone Bridge, and follow the KATY Trail to the Historic District of St. Charles near Main Street.

There are two Bike Stop Cafés. One is at Chesterfield Outlets (17057 N Outer 40 Rd, Chesterfield, MO 63005) and the other at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Perry Street (701 Riverside Drive, St. Charles, MO 63301).

Important Note for Early Birds!  the Bike Stop Cafe in Chesterfield opens at 11am. If you want to get an early start, begin your ride at the St. Charles location (opens at 7am).  There is a parking lot on Riverside Drive next to the Cafe. 

Parking:
Begin your ride at the Chesterfield Bike Stop Café. Grab some peanut butter balls and cinnamon rolls to fuel for your ride! (Both locations have outdoor seating and curbside pickup available. See Bike Stop Cafe Covid-19 operations and procedures here.) The greenway runs behind The Chesterfield Outlets, atop the Monarch Chesterfield Levee. You can jump on the greenway via a connection on the western end of the outlet mall’s parking lot. If you want to shave six miles off the total route, you can park at the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex Parking lot West A & B and access the greenway there. 

Route:
Follow the greenway to the Boone Bridge. Be sure to stop on the bridge and enjoy the view of the Missouri River! Take the clover leaf down from the Boone Bridge. When you get to the Katy Trail, take a left and head east towards the Historic District of  St. Charles. Stop at Thies Farms on Greens Bottom road for a snack break. (Their cookies and pie come highly recommended!) Continue east for 7 miles until you reach the St. Charles Bike Stop Café located at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Perry Street.

Distance:
Bike Stop Café Chesterfield to Bike Stop Café St. Charles = 18.3 miles
Bike Stop Café Chesterfield to Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex lot West A & B = 3 miles
Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex lot West A & B to Thies Farms on Greens Bottom Road = 8.3 miles
Thies Farms to Bike Stop Café in St. Charles = 7 miles

Round Trip:
Chesterfield Bike Stop Café to Bike Stop Café St. Charles  = 36.6 miles
Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex Parking lot West A & B to Bike Stop Café St. Charles = 30.6 miles

About the Bike Stop Cafés:
Owned by cycling advocates Jodi Devonshire and Tony Caruso, the Bike Stop Cafés provide “…customers of all walks of life, reasonably priced bicycles, service and healthy foods.” Both locations offer a full menu of sandwiches, wraps and salads, breakfast all day and also serve coffee, beer and wine. They chose their Chesterfield location so customers could easily connect with the greenway. Click here to learn more about both Bike Stop Cafes, check out the menu and see options for bike service, rentals and sales!  Bike Stop Cafe also offers shuttle service, but advance reservations are required and shuttles may not always be available. Call 636.724.9900 for more information!

Neighbor Input Needed for Design Phase of Hodiamont Greenway-Online Kickoff Meetings August 14 & 18, 2020

Join us as we begin the design phase of the Hodiamont Greenway at one of two duplicate, one-hour online kickoff meetings – one on Friday, August 14 at 11:00 a.m., the other on Tuesday, August 18 at 6:00 p.m.

The greenway, which will follow the former Hodiamont Tracks in north St. Louis, will include the seven neighborhoods of Covenant Blu-Grand Center, Vandeventer, Lewis Place, Fountain Park, Academy/Sherman Park, Visitation Park and West End.  At either meeting you can learn about the project, how to be involved and meet the design team.

“In 2018, we conducted community conversations to find out whether residents wanted a greenway along the Hodiamont Tracks,” says Elizabeth Simons, Great Rivers Greenway Community Program Manager. “More than 95 percent of participants who engaged in the process said ‘yes’ and that’s why we continued planning, technical assessments and clean-ups in 2019 and are now moving to the design phase.”

The study area is a 3.5-mile route that was originally a streetcar line, later became a bus route, and is now only used for alley access. The tracks start on Enright Avenue, one block west of Vandeventer in the Grand Center Arts District and continue west connecting the other six neighborhoods to Gwen Giles Park at the city limit. When complete, the Hodiamont Greenway will not only connect to the St. Vincent and future Brickline Greenway, but also link numerous schools, parks, houses of worship and neighborhoods.

If you want to attend one of the online public meetings, please register in advance. You have the option of participating via computer or phone:

Friday August 14 11am to noon

To join by computer, pre-register at http://bit.ly/HTGmtg1

To join by phone call 312-626-6799, meeting ID 899-8852-5863

Tuesday August 18 6pm to 7pm

To join by computer, pre-register at http://bit.ly/HTGmtg2

To join by phone, call 312-626-6799, meeting ID 822-9666-7094

The conceptual design phase is expected to take about 18 months to complete before identifying a pilot project to begin engineering.

 Learn more about the Hodiamont Greenway here: https://greatriversgreenway.org/hodiamont/