Deer Creek Greenway Update

Great Rivers Greenway is dedicated to our mission to make the St. Louis region a more vibrant place to live, work and play by developing a regional network of greenways. We collaborate with partners all around the region to fulfill the community’s vision for this network and we take our job of stewarding the taxpayers’ investment very seriously.

As you may know, we have been working with municipal partners on a project to connect Deer Creek Greenway from Deer Creek Park and shopping center through the cities of Maplewood and St. Louis to connect to the River des Peres Greenway. This project originated in 2004 and has had various alignments studied to determine feasibility over the past 14 years. In 2015, with supporting letters from the Cities of Maplewood and St. Louis and St. Louis County, Great Rivers Greenway successfully secured a $1.6 million federal grant for the northern route option.

When an alternate alignment (along the creek) showed signs of being feasible again in August 2017, Great Rivers Greenway met with the Maplewood City Council to discuss options. The community engagement process continued with a Maplewood public meeting in October, an online survey, an outreach event at the Schlafly Farmer’s Market in Maplewood in December, a community workshop at Maplewood City Hall in December and a neighborhood meeting in January in the City of St. Louis, the other municipal partner on this project. The community’s preference was for the northern alignment and we shared the full results of the engagement efforts with all project partners.

Maplewood City Council discussed the alignment options during several Council meetings and work sessions and had difficulty reaching consensus, reporting a stalemate after the most recent February 13th meeting. The City of Maplewood later communicated preference for the northern route and provided a list of topics and concerns to explore, many of which are outside the scope and timeline of the original greenway project as described in the federal grant.

With these new topics for discussion, this project is not ready to move forward as originally planned, so we will decline the $1.6 million from East West Gateway Council of Governments to release this project from those deadlines. We have offered to move forward together in a collaborative planning process with the City of Maplewood. Pending Great Rivers Greenway Board approval, we would need to develop a new scope for the project along the greenway segment in Maplewood. That process would explore what’s feasible, what funding mechanisms are available, what is within the scope of a greenway project and what is a municipal issue for the City of Maplewood to address. We have asked the City of Maplewood to reach an agreement on whether or not we will move forward together in this way by the end of April 2018, so we can adjust our budget as needed.

As always, we will keep you informed as this project evolves and we appreciate your continued input! Questions welcome anytime. Hope to see you out on the greenways or at a program or event soon.

Greenway Alerts: Old Chaing of Rocks Bridge and Busch Greenway Pedestrian Bridge Temporarily Closed for Repairs

We will be temporarily closing two bridges this winter: the pedestrian boardwalk in the Busch Greenway near Duckett Creek and the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Here is what you need to know before you go:

Pedestrian Boardwalk in Busch Greenway
The boardwalk in the Busch Greenway between the Duckett Creek trail head and KATY Trail will be closed to all visitors for four to six weeks beginning February 5. Contractors will be replacing the entire deck and support beams. You will be unable to enter or exit the Katy Trail via the Busch Greenway during this time. Please plan an alternate route.

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge will be temporarily closed to all visitors March 12-April 6 so we can make repairs to the concrete deck and expansion joints.  This work is necessary to maintain the historic structure and increase its load rating. As an alternate route, you can use the bicycle and pedestrian path on the McKinley Bridge to travel across the Mississippi River.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we maintain your investment in the greenways! Please keep in mind that all work is weather dependent. Check our website and Facebook page for updates.

More Greenways for You in 2018!

Construction Update

Our team has been busy planning and building new greenways for you to explore and enjoy! Thanks to our many partners, and tremendous community feedback, we’ll be cutting the ribbon on several expanded greenways this year. We’ll also break ground on a few new projects in 2018. Here’s a quick update:

River des Peres Greenway
We’re putting the finishing touches on the extension of the River des Peres Greenway from the Shrewsbury- Lansdowne MetroLink to Slay Park. Trees and shrubs are all in place and wayfinding signs will be placed in the coming weeks. Thanks to this most recent expansion, the greenway now stretches a full 9.6 miles and connects to more places than ever before!

Centennial Greenway: Bridges over 364 & 94 in St. Charles County
In April, we’ll celebrate the expansion of the Centennial Greenway in St. Charles County over Highways 364 and 94. It now connects both sides of the community so people can safely walk or ride a bike across these busy highways. New connections to parks, schools, businesses and the Katy Trail on foot or bike are now possible thanks to these two bridges. Save the date for a ribbon cutting celebration with our partners on April 7, 2018!

Mississippi Greenway: Cliff Cave Park
In May, we’ll open the expanded greenway in Cliff Cave Park with a ribbon cutting May 4th and Community Day May 6th. This 2 mile expansion connects the existing greenway to the upper section of the park so it is more accessible for everyone. There’s also a new parking lot, restrooms and a neighborhood spur that connects to Telegraph Road. Wait ‘til you see the amazing view of the Mississippi River from the new overlook on the bluff!

Fee Fee Greenway: Aquaport to Creve Coeur Park
On June 14th, we’ll cut another ribbon on the expanded Fee Fee Greenway. This two mile extension along Quarry at Crystal Springs golf course makes it possible to walk or ride a bike all the way from Aquaport in Maryland Heights to Creve Coeur Park.

Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail
On June 24th, we’ll open the new trailhead at the south end of the greenway near Orlando’s. The first phase of this eagerly anticipated expansion includes restrooms, benches, landscaping and a play structure. As part of the festivities, we’ll also host an open house so you can learn more about the second phase of the project that will extend the greenway an additional two miles to connect with the River des Peres Greenway.

Deer Creek Greenway: Deer Creek Park to Lorraine Davis Park
Next fall, we’ll celebrate the 1.5 mile extension of the Deer Creek Greenway from Webster Groves Deer Creek Park to Lorraine Davis Park. When complete, there will be a total of 2.2 miles to explore and enjoy! There will also be a new boardwalk, landscaping with native plants, and a new pavilion with picnic tables and a drinking fountain in Lorraine Davis Park.


What’s Coming in 2018

The Great Rivers Greenway Board has approved funding to advance several projects in 2018. Here are a few highlights:

Chouteau Greenway
Together with our partners, we’ll advance the concepts for the Chouteau Greenway as the design competition continues through the end of June. See the latest updates here. Get the latest information on the Chouteau Greenway here.

Maline Greenway
Construction will soon begin on the first segment of the Maline Greenway in Bella Fontaine Park. Plans include the renovation of existing trails, replacement of three pedestrian bridges, and construction of an underpass beneath Lewis and Clark Boulevard that will connect both sides of the park, providing area residents with a safer way to enjoy all the park’s amenities and improved options for accessing transit.

New Trailhead on Deer Creek Greenway
Bids are out for a new trailhead on Marshall Avenue along the route of the Deer Creek Greenway that’s currently under construction. It will offer parking, a water fountain, a pavilion, benches, restored streambank habitat and more!

Centennial Greenway: Interstate I-70 and Delmar Improvements
We are working with our partners on the final designs to improve the greenway where it crosses over Delmar at I-170 in the City of University City. The goal is to make it safer and easier for people to navigate this intersection whether they are on foot, bike or in a car.

Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Bike Rides for Older Adults

It’s never too late to enjoy the fun and proven health benefits of bicycling!

Think you’re too old to ride a bike? Think again! It’s never too late to enjoy the health benefits (and fun!) of cycling. But don’t just take our word for it; the results of a recent Mayo Clinic study may motivate you to get back on a bike!

Researchers monitored the effects of different exercise regimens on healthy (but sedentary) men and women over the age of 64 and under the age of 30. After twelve weeks, the subjects who did interval workouts while pedaling a bicycle showed the greatest increase in the number and health of muscle cell “power generators”—the mitochondria. An unexpected finding was this positive effect was even more pronounced among the older cyclists. What does this mean for you? According to the study’s lead author, the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging can be ‘corrected” with exercise in the form of interval training. Are you ready to get back on a bike yet?

Bike Riding as Interval Training
Interval training is any workout that alternates bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. Many activities can be turned into an interval workout. However, a bike ride can deliver all the fitness benefits of interval training along with a healthy dose of fresh air, fun, and ever-changing scenery. So where do you begin…?

Back in the Saddle Again: Bike Rides for Older Adults in the St. Louis Region
With more than 113 miles of greenway across our region, you can take your pick of scenic routes, natural areas and parks to explore and enjoy. Click here to see a list of all the greenways.  If you would rather ride with a group, there are a number of options for older adults and those who are new to cycling:

City of Chesterfield Parks, Recreation and Arts
The City of Chesterfield offers weekly group bike rides for adults age 55 and older. They ride on greenways across the regional as well as the KATY Trail.  The rides are free and designed to accommodate people of all fitness levels. Contact olderadults@chesterfield.mo.us to be placed on their mailing list. You can also visit the website here.

Oasis St. Louis
Oasis is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to promote healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement. St. Louis Oasis offers a variety of bike rides geared for older adults. You can find their spring 2018 rides on greenways here.

St. Louis Recreational Cyclists
St. Louis Recreational Cyclists is a bicycling group that offers “both moderate and more challenging group rides” in the metropolitan St. Louis area. Visit their website to learn more.

West County Women Cyclists
West County Women Cyclists is a network for “sharing cycling tips, information on organized biking events, trails and fellowship. They welcome “all ranges of riders from beginners needing a mentor to the very experienced.” The group is open to women of all ages and abilities across the region–not just West County!  Visit their “meetup” web site to learn more.

If you know of other group rides for older adults or those who are new to cycling, tell us here.


Adventures With an Older Adult Group Bike Ride: Bike Stop Café to Bike Stop Cafe

Curious what a group bike ride is like? Mary Klauke, recreation specialist with the City of Chesterfield Parks, Recreation and Arts tells all:

“In spring 2017, we kicked off our inaugural season of weekly bike rides for adults age 55 and older on the Missouri Greenway: Monarch Chesterfield Levee. We had a really enthusiastic group of people ranging from 53 to 82 years old. Some of the participants had been riding for years; others were just getting back on a bike. We made it clear that everyone was welcome to set their own pace. We also wanted everyone to determine how far they wanted to go.

After several weeks, our group wanted to see some new sites so I organized rides on Grant’s Trail, the Al Foster Trail in the Meramec Greenway, Creve Coeur Park to Centennial Greenway and the KATY Trail.

We continued riding every Monday through the summer. It was exciting to see everyone increase their speed and endurance. By September we were ready for a “graduation ride.” I planned a trip that took us 18.3 miles from the Bike Stop Café in Chesterfield to the Bike Stop Café in St. Charles on the KATY Trail.

We met at the Chesterfield Bike Stop Café at Taubman Prestige Outlets near the food court.  After a little rain, the sun came out (along with a full rainbow!) and we enjoyed a beautiful ride across the Missouri River to the KATY Trail. We took a pit stop and cookie and pie break at Thies Farms on Greens Bottom Road parallel to the trail. Seven miles further down the KATY Trail we pulled off and enjoyed a delicious lunch on the patio at Bike Stop Café in St. Charles. A few people opted to take the Bike Stop Café Shuttle back to Chesterfield and the rest of the group enjoyed the 18 mile return trip (for a total of 36 miles) back to their cars. It was a great way to cap off our inaugural season!”(Contact olderadults@chesterfield.mo.us to be placed on their mailing list.)

Does that sound like fun?

Plan your own Bike Stop Cafe to Bike Stop Cafe Trip here!

What a Difference A Year Makes!

People + Partnerships = Healthier Watersheds and Habitat in 2017

Great Rivers Greenway works to improve quality of life for all by creating and restoring healthy habitats and engaging people to take care of our region’s watersheds. This work would not be possible without partners such as the Open Space Council of St. Louis, Greenway Network, River des Peres Watershed Coalition, Missouri Stream Team, Missouri River Relief, Missouri Department of Conservation, St. Louis Audubon Society and more. We also rely on corporate, school, and civic groups to help us clean up trash, remove invasive species and add pollinator habitat throughout the St. Louis region.

As we look back on 2017, we want to thank our partners and volunteers who worked so hard to clean up our rivers and enhance our natural resources!

4,538 volunteers engaged in 33 greenway cleanup and conservation workdays coordinated with partners across the region!

 

Those volunteers donated 13,238 hours of time to improve the region’s watersheds.
That’s the equivalent of 6 dedicated full-time employees.

106 tons of trash and 2,749 tires were removed from rivers and creeks across the region with the help of volunteers and partners!

1,087 native plants and shrubs installed on greenways across the region
(You’re welcome, pollinators!)


In addition to volunteer cleanups, we also partner with nonprofits and other organizations to help enhance and restore habitat.
Thanks to the hard work of AmeriCorps St. Louis, we were able to clear 7.78 acres of honeysuckle and other invasive species and replaced it with more than 90 native trees!

Planning for 2018 is underway! If you or your group would like to join our conservation efforts, sign up for our volunteer newsletter here. We’ll let you know about volunteer opportunities for groups of all sizes, ages and abilities! Drop us a line here if you would like to create a custom work day or stewardship event.

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 the Taubman Prestige 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).

Parking:
Begin your ride at the Chesterfield Bike Stop Café. Be sure to grab a snack before you begin! You can ride on North Outer 40 Road to the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex and connect with the greenway near the West A & B parking lot. If you prefer to ride on greenway only, park at the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex. (This shortens the total distance of the trip by 3 miles each way.) NOTE: Due to Pump Station work by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Monarch-Chesterfield Levee Greenway is closed at Long Road until mid-March 2018.

Route:
Follow the greenway to the Boone Bridge. Be sure to stop on the bridge and enjoy the view of the Missouri River! 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 at Taubman Outlet to Bike Stop Café St. Charles = 18.3 miles
Bike Stop Café at Taubman Outlet 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!

Four Teams Selected For Chouteau Greenway Design Competition

Area Residents Invited to Two Events in Early January to Kick off Second Phase of Design Competition

Great Rivers Greenway and our partners have finished the first stage in the Chouteau Greenway Design Competition process. The four selected teams will officially begin working on their respective conceptual plans to connect Forest Park and Washington University to Downtown and the Gateway Arch in early January after receiving a full briefing on the project’s goals, challenges and opportunities. Residents of the region will have a chance to meet the project teams and learn more about their qualifications at the “Meet the Designers” night, being held on Jan. 4, and can make their mark on a community mural at a Community Day event, being held on Jan. 6.

Great Rivers Greenway and partners received a total of 19 team qualifications submittals for the first stage of the competition. A jury, comprised of nine local and international experts, reviewed all submissions and recommended the four winning teams. A total of 124 firms from seven countries and 13 U.S. states made up the team submissions, with 44 of the firms being local to the St. Louis region. Teams represent the disciplines of urban planning, economics, cultural programming, art, sustainability, Universal Design, landscape architecture, architecture, civil and structural engineering, hydrology, open space programming, acoustics, lighting and traffic engineering.

The second stage of the competition will require the teams to prepare conceptual designs for the Chouteau Greenway that address the design and experience of the greenway, while also addressing the economic development and equity issues in the region. All four teams chosen include local St. Louis team members and are as follows:

  • James Corner Field Operations in association with [dtls], WSP, HR & A Advisors, Lord Cultural Resources, Sherwood Design Engineers, MIC, L’Observatorie, ETM Associates
  • STOSS Landscape Urbanism in association with Amanda Williams, Urban Planning and Design for the American City, Alta Planning + Design, Marlon Blackwell Architects, HR & A Advisors and David Mason and Associates
  • TLS Landscape Architecture, OBJECT TERRITORIES, [dhd] derek hoeferlin design in association with Langan, Linda Samuels, Paola Serrano, EDSI, Ramboll, Kristin Fleischmann Brewer, eDesign Dynamics, Silman, Econsult Solutions, Bryan Cave, Preservation Research Office
  • W Architecture & Landscape Architecture in association with Arup, ABNA Engineering, Gardiner & Theobald, Kiku Obata & Co., Regina Myer

“Our nation is trying to figure out what equitable cities look like and this competition is an opportunity to take on those issues and bring St. Louis to the forefront of this dialogue,” according to a statement provided by the Chouteau Greenway International Design Competition jury. “The four teams selected showed that they have the diversity of disciplines, experience and capacity needed to take on such a complex problem. Using terms such as ‘authentic engagement’, ‘radical listening’ and ‘empathy-driven approaches’, they described people as being the center of a transformation that will strengthen the fabric of St. Louis.”

Since September, Great Rivers Greenway has gathered community input on the project in a variety of ways. A survey, which 2,000 regional residents have taken to date, has thus far captured the community’s desire for the project to be inclusive on multiple levels. People have asked that the greenway create a physical common ground, but also that the process and implementation be intentional. Many respondents requested policy around the types of economic development the greenway could bring to ensure opportunities for all. Specific requests listed include small business development, job creation and affordable housing. The survey remains open online at www.ChouteauGreenway.org until Dec. 22, 2017.

Moving forward, community members are invited to attend two events to help them further connect with the project. A Meet the Designers Night will be held on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Local 36 Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall, located at 2319 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, MO 63103. The event will feature presentations from 6:15-7:30 p.m. from project partners and all four design teams, so everyone will have an opportunity to learn about their qualifications and approach. The event is free to attend and will have a cash bar. Residents of the region are also invited to a Community Day on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 from 9am to noon at Harris-Stowe State University’s William L. Clay Professional Development Center, located at 3026 Laclede Ave, St. Louis, MO 63103. People of all ages will have the opportunity to help create a mural for the project, in partnership with Freedom Arts & Education Center. Local performers will show off their skills and door prizes will be given out all morning. Information about the project will be displayed, with 10 minute presentations every hour. The event is free and food and drink are provided.

“Please join us for one or both of these events to get to know the project and see how the whole community can bring the greenway to life,” said Susan Trautman, Chief Executive Officer for Great Rivers Greenway. “We are thrilled with the forthright feedback people have given us so far and look forward to this project and process being transformational for our region.”

Teams will work on their designs throughout the first quarter of the year, meeting frequently with technical and community advisors from many disciplines across the region to guide the teams through questions to determine feasibility and relevance. Final design concepts will be presented to the community through exhibits, online surveys, open houses and direct outreach in April 2018. The jury will then evaluate the plans based on design and community goals in late April and choose the winning team to finalize its design, completing the competition, in June 2018. Partners will then determine how to bring the project to life through further design, phasing, engineering, construction, activation, operations and maintenance.

The full list of qualification submittals and the submissions from the four teams chosen, along with information about the jury, Technical Advisory Group and Community Advisory Committee, the open survey and upcoming events are posted online at www.ChouteauGreenway.org.

Greenway Construction Update: November 2017

If we summarized our greenway construction over the past three months in just one word, it would have to be… BRIDGES!

Since July, our project managers have overseen the placement of five bridges in three greenways across the region. Two in Cliff Cave Park for the Mississippi Greenway, one for the Fee Fee Greenway in Maryland Heights, and two over Highways 364 and 94 for the Centennial Greenway in St. Charles County.

In late July, contractors placed a 70 foot bridge over the creek that flows from the mouth of Cliff Cave in the Mississippi Greenway. A 210 foot bridge, one of the longest single span pedestrian bridges in the St. Louis region, was placed over Cliff Cave Road. New restrooms were installed in mid-October and work continues on the new parking lot serving the upper section of Cliff Cave County Park. Contractors are putting the finishing touches on the new overlook as construction continues between Cliff Cave Road and Telegraph Road. Trees will be planted between now and the end of the year but the rest of the landscaping will have to wait until warmer weather in the spring.

We know everyone is eager to explore and enjoy the new paved paths and overlook, but the upper section of Cliff Cave County Park is still closed. Our project manager and partners at St. Louis County Parks want to remind everyone this is an active construction site and for everyone’s safety, please only use the greenway in the lower section of the park. We look forward to opening this new greenway in spring 2018!

In September, a 78 foot bridge was set over Fee Fee Creek in Maryland Heights as part of the two mile extension of the Fee Fee Greenway from its current endpoint in McKelvey Woods to Creve Coeur County Park. A new “living wall” is starting to come to life with its first “cover crop” of wild rye grass. The purpose of the living wall system is to help capture the storm water that drains off the paved surface, reducing the impact on nearby creeks and streams. This living wall will also provide habitat for wildlife and insects. When the project is completed in early to mid-2018, the three mile greenway will connect the new Maryland Heights Community Center and Aquaport with Creve Coeur County Park.

Another construction milestone occurred in September with the placement of two bridges over highways 364 & 94 in St. Charles County. Two of the longest bridges in our system at 217 and 280 feet, they required four overnight highway closures. Construction crews are working on the approaches to the bridges and the project is expected to be wrapped up in 2017. Some landscaping work will continue into spring 2018. Stay tuned for updates on when the new Centennial Greenway bridges will be open for you to explore and enjoy!

Construction is about 90 percent complete on the River des Peres Greenway extension from the Shrewsbury- Lansdowne MetroLink to Slay Park. Painting is underway on the Lansdowne and Chippewa Bridges and new trees and wayfinding signs should be installed in the coming weeks. We’ll let you know when the greenway is officially open!

Construction to extend the Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail to connect it with the River des Peres Greenway began in late September with the closure of the southern trailhead near Orlando’s Event and Conference Center. Crews are building the foundations for the new restroom and trailhead amenities as well as beginning to layout the new paved greenway segment. As a reminder, you are unable to enter or exit the greenway at Orlando’s while construction of the improved trailhead is underway. The last 750 feet of the existing paved route is also closed. The first phase of construction is expected to last about six months with the second phase breaking ground in mid-2018.

Geocaching on the Greenways

Looking for a fun way to enjoy a little more life outside with the entire family? Give geocaching a try!

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a kind of modern day GPS enabled treasure hunt. There are thousands of geocaches hidden in parks and along trails and greenways waiting to be discovered…by you.

With the help of a hand-held GPS or cell phone, you search for these caches by making your way to provided coordinates. But that will only get you so far. Once you are at the spot, you have to use your wits to find the hidden treasure. Caches can be hidden in trees, under rocks, within walls and pretty much anywhere the person hiding it can dream up.

The caches themselves vary greatly in size, contents and appearance. Some are as small as a film canister while others can be as large as a 5 gallon bucket. There are hundreds hidden throughout the St. Louis region, including more than a few placed along the greenways!


What’s inside a geocache?

Once you have found a geocache, the next step is to open it. The smallest caches (called micros and nanos) typically contain just a log which, on which you will jot down your name and the date, letting future finders of the cache know that you were there. Other caches are large enough to contain more than just the log. They will also contain any number of items, including coins, toys and trinkets. As a reward for your intrepid work, you are allowed to take and keep any item from the cache, but with one caveat – you must leave something of equal or greater value in its place. Once you have done that, put the geocache back exactly where you found it and replace any debris or materials that may have been covering it.


Where do you start?

A great place to get started is the Geocaching.com website. There, you can learn much, much more about the hobby and once you have created a free account, you can access the database of millions of geocaches around the world – including the hundreds that are located in the St. Louis region.

You can browse through their map, and check out all the geocaches near you.

Once you have found one that piques your interest, you can check out additional details about the geocache including an included description about the site as well as helpful hints that can lead you to the treasure. When you are ready to go, use the included GPS coordinates to start your treasure hunt! 

 


Is it a kid friendly activity?

Every geocache is different. Some will be very kid friendly while others may not be the best choice for young ones.

To help you choose the right geocache for you and your kiddos, be sure to take a gander at each geocache’s difficulty and terrain rating. Each cache is assigned a score from 1 to 5 for both categories to detail how hard the geocache is to get to and find once you are there. Geocaches with scores of 1 are very easy to find and are easily accessible. On the flip side, a geocache with scores of a 5 will require specialized knowledge, tools and equipment to find and may involve rock climbing, repelling or scuba diving to reach.

There are no shortage of geocaches out there, so you should be able to find more than a few to entertain and delight all members of your treasure hunting party.


Where did it come from?

Outer space.

Satellites circling  the earth, roughly 12,000 miles above us, make this game possible. The hobby burst into life back in the year 2000 when the U.S. government opened up use of 24 of these satellites to any human being yielding an appropriately attuned device. GPS existed before this, but it wasn’t very accurate. This change instantly boosted the accuracy of devices ten-fold. About that time, some clever fellow who wanted to test the accuracy of these devices for himself, hid a bucket in the woods and posted the coordinates to the internet with the simple rules to anyone who would find it…”take some stuff, leave some stuff.” The game caught on, and now more than 3 million caches are currently hidden around the world.


What do I need to bring?

You will need a hand held GPS unit or a GPS enabled cell phone. Also be sure to bring a pen so that you can sign your name to the logs. Some caches are too small to include a pen, and you want the world to know of your achievements. You will also want to bring along some treasures to replace any trinkets or tokens you may take from a discovered trove. Beyond that, be sure to bring whatever else you might bring along on a family adventure outdoors and you should be all set for a day of GPS enabled fun!


Want to know more?

We caught up with Peter Shaw from the St. Louis Area Geocachers Association to learn more about this activity. He was kind enough to take us out for a bit and explain the basics.

Greenway Getaway: Postcards from the Sunset Greenway

If you’ve never explored the Sunset Greenway, now is the time to plan a trip! This 3.9 mile paved route meanders through Florissant in north St. Louis County and offers stunning views of the Missouri River at Sunset Park along with connections to other parks, neighborhoods, and multiple historic sites along the way!

With fall colors reaching their peak, a walk or bike ride down the bluff in Sunset Park to the Missouri River will be a feast for your eyes. And speaking of feasts, there are plenty of local restaurants and “Mom-and-Pop” stops where you can enjoy a quick snack or delicious meal.

If you are a history buff, you’ll love exploring a greenway that takes you through one of the earliest settlements in the state of Missouri. You’ll also enjoy Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, Sacred Heart Church, and dozens of historic buildings and homes in Old Town Florissant.

There is so much to see and do along the way, we’ve compiled a list of options so you can plan your own trip!

Sunset Greenway in Sunset Park

The Sunset Greenway is a flat, paved route that stretches 3.9 miles from Florissant’s Sunset Park to St. Francois Street near the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine. Less than a mile of the greenway lies within Sunset Park–but what a lovely less-than-a-mile it is! It connects the upper section of the park down to the banks of the Missouri River. You can walk, ride or push a stroller through the tree-lined path while enjoying views of the river. There are plenty of benches to stop and rest along the way. If you happen to be visiting when the sun goes down, you’ll understand why it’s called Sunset Park!

Sunset Park to Saint Ferdinand Park (2.3 miles)

From Sunset Park, the greenway parallels Humes Lane and then turns south along Patterson Road to Mullanphy Road where it passes through Florissant’s 64-acre Saint Ferdinand Park. There are pavilions, sand volleyball courts, restrooms, a lake, six ball fields and four playground areas. The park is home to the summer concert series “Music under the Stars” held adjacent to the lake in during July and August.

Saint Ferdinand Park to St. Francois Street (.9 miles)

From Saint Ferdinand Park, the greenway continues south along Coldwater Creek, under Lindbergh Blvd, crossing St. Denis Street and through Coldwater Commons Park. The greenway ends at St. Francois Street. Immediately to the right (west) is the Historic St. Ferdinand Shrine. To the left, (east) you can walk or ride on St. Francois Street into Florissant Old Town. It is .7 mile from the greenway at St. Francois Street through Old Town to its eastern border at N. New Florissant Rd.

Historic Sites to See

Old St. Ferdinand Shrine
The Shrine is at the site of one of the earliest European settlements west of the Mississippi. Although Spain controlled the area, early settlers were French farmers and fur trappers attracted to the fertile banks of nearby Coldwater Creek. The French called the valley “Fleurissant” which means “flowering” or “flourishing” while the Spanish called the tiny settlement “St. Ferdinand.” While it is not known when the first settlers came to the area, it is believed that the village was settled about the same time St. Louis was (1764). The king of Spain actually granted the village the site where the old church was built. The settlement was typical of French settlements at the time with a commons and common fields where the villagers did their farming. For a number of years a log church served the community until the original portion of the existing church was constructed in 1821. Tours are available from Monday thru Sunday by appointment. For more details, visit the Shrine’s website.

Sacred Heart Church
In Old Town, the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church is located at the corner of N. Jefferson and St. Denis Street. Founded by German families who settled in the area, the original church was completed in 1872. The existing church was completed in 1893. It is still an active parish of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The historic Herz Jesu school building is the home of Sacred Heart Kindergarten, prekindergarten and preschool. There is a museum on the lower level of the Rectory that is open the second Sunday of the month from 10am to 2pm. To learn more about the church and school, visit their website.

Walking Tour of Old Town Florissant

Old Town Florissant is filled with many century homes, businesses, restaurants and shops housed in historic buildings. Florissant Old Town Partners has created a self-guided walking tour comprised of 13 historic sites. Click here for the map so you can take the tour!

Places to Eat

There is something for everyone along the Sunset Greenway. Whether you’re craving some Mexican food, a donut, pizza, crab cakes, pastries, deli sandwiches or an ice cold beverage—you can find it just around the corner. Here are just a few of the local favorites:

Hendel’s—known for their historic building, Hendel’s Burger, crab cakes, Sunday brunch and outdoor patio. (599 St. Denis Street, 63031)

Ruiz—St. Louis’ oldest Mexican restaurant is located directly on the greenway! ( 901 N. US Highway 67, 63031)

Helfer’s Pastries & Deli Cafe—Family-owned bakery and deli. Their slogan is “Premium ingredients and expert skill make quality our specialty.” (380 Saint Ferdinand St., 63031)

Amore Pizza—family owned restaurant known for “pizza and pasta specials at reasonable prices.” (450 Saint Francois Street, 63031)

Fritz’s Original Frozen Custard—home of the Famous Turtle Sunday! (1055 St. Catherine, Florissant, 63031)

Old Town Donuts—recognized by the Riverfront Times as the best donuts in the St. Louis region. They are open 24 Hours a day, 7 days a week! (508 New Florissant Rd., 63031)

Find more places to dine, visit and shop here

Important information to know before you go!

If you are riding your bike, the Rotary Club of Florissant has recently completed the installation of ten new bicycle racks to accommodate increased bicycle traffic in Historic Old Town Florissant! These are placed in strategic locations around Old Town including City Hall, Fritz’s Frozen Custard, Stem’s Florist and Gifts, Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, and more.

Construction to improve the intersection where the greenway crosses Shackelford Rd. is underway. As with any intersection, please use caution when crossing the roadway.

There has been a “washout” along Coldwater Creek just north of Lindbergh Blvd. The greenway is still open in this area, but it narrows slightly. Use caution when passing through this area as we work with our partners to repair it.

Parking
Street parking is available in Historic Old Town. You can also park in Sunset Park or Saint Ferdinand Park.

Restrooms
There are restrooms in Saint Ferdinand Park and Sunset Park. Find all the details on this greenway here.