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Sunset Greenway Trail

Sunset Greenway Trail

Time for another day trip trail review!  Craig took a half day off work yesterday and we biked out to the Missouri River on the Sunset Greenway Trail.  As usual we started from our doorstep and biked the familiar 5 1/2 miles through Ferguson, Calverton Park and Florissant to where the trail begins in front of the historic St. Ferdinand Shrine in Old Town Florissant.

The 3 1/2 mile off road paved trail meanders along Coldwater Commons Park, past the new community garden and  under busy Lindbergh Boulevard.  How I hate that busy Lindbergh Boulevard.  Too many cars.  Too many stores, entrances and exits.  Cars zooming around in all different directions.  Just insanity everywhere.  And some brilliant municipal employee has had “Share The Road” signs installed along this dreadful road.  Are you kidding me?!  I am happy to pedal safely underneath this eyesore below the bridge where Lindbergh crosses Coldwater Creek.

The historic St. Ferdinand Shrine overlooks the beginning of the Sunset Greenway Trail at the end of St. Francois Street.

The historic St. Ferdinand Shrine overlooks the beginning of the Sunset Greenway Trail at the end of St. Francois Street.

On the other side of Lindbergh, the trail runs along Coldwater Creek through a quick industrial area and into St. Ferdinand Park.  This is a municipal sports field park with multiple baseball diamonds, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, a walking and fitness trail, playgrounds and picnic shelters.   A pedestrian bridge carts us over Coldwater Creek along a short greenway between several houses where we cross Patterson Road.

Great Rivers Greenways has built a nice trail here connecting the St. Ferdinand Shrine area and St. Ferdinand Park  with Sunset Park on the Missouri River.  A fairly large covered shelter with benches, water fountain and information sign welcomes us to the northwest side of Patterson Road.  The paved trail weaves gently through the wide greenway space comfortably far away from the street.

A bridge over Coldwater Creek connects St. Ferdinand Park to the rest of the trail across Patterson Road.

A bridge over Coldwater Creek connects St. Ferdinand Park to the rest of the trail across Patterson Road.

Cyclists, joggers and walkers on the trail share the greenway with the power company’s labyrinthine web of wires, boxes and enormous complicated metal towers safely enclosed within chain mesh fencing and high voltage warnings.  It’s a bit unsightly to pedal through all of that.  But I’m happy as a clam to share the trail with whatever voltage bearers Ameren wants to shove in there as long as there is a BIKE TRAIL!

It’s neighborhoods and a couple of elementary schools from here all the way to the river.  We pedal along behind backyard after backyard as rabbits and squirrels scurry out of the way ahead of us.  I love peeping into everyone’s backyards to see how they have or have not enhanced their yards.  The occasional little dog runs out to the fence to serenade us with barks as we pass by.  Little home vegetable and flower gardens dot the greenway space along the trail.  The houses are small and dated.  This is not a beautiful neighborhood but it is peaceful.

The trail winds through the greenway space between the neighborhoods and the street.

The trail winds through the greenway space between the neighborhoods and the street.

The trail turns left and follows Humes Lane west toward the river.  Shackelford and Humes is the largest intersection we will cross.  We wait with our bikes on a concrete island between the right turn lane and the intersection for the light to change.  It is a cloudy fall day.  No one seems to be in a hurry at noon on this grey Friday.

The final section of the trail is officially closed right now.  I hope they fix it soon!

The final section of the trail is officially closed right now. I hope they fix it soon!

 

 

 

We climb the hill up to Sunset Park and are greeted by spectacular views on the bluff high above the Missouri River.  This park is named for the stunning sunsets as the sun dips below the slow moving waters.  Today though there is no sun but only dreary clouds and row upon row of brown withering leaves in the fading trees that stretch out below us.  We can see across the river and far into the woods and farmlands of St. Charles county on the other side of the water.

Sailing down the switchbacks to the river.

Sailing down the switchbacks to the river.

The last time I biked this way in the spring, the last section of the trail had been closed due to a mudslide that had washed away part of the pavement.  I am disappointed to see that the trail is still barricaded here.  I hoped the city would have fixed it after this many months.

The barricade is only a small sign and flimsy orange plastic fencing.  A path of trodden bare ground around the fencing betrays the many visitors who have ignored the “Trail Closed” sign.   That included me and now the both of us as we walk our bikes around the barrier and back onto the trail.

THIS is why the entire last section of the trail has been closed.  C'mon Florissant, fix this please!!

THIS is why the entire last section of the trail has been closed. C’mon Florissant, fix this please!!

This final section of the trail switchbacks steeply down the bluff to meet the river.  The city hasn’t maintained the trail since it has been closed and overgrown bushes and grasses encroach far onto the trail on both sides.  Nature reclaims her territory so quickly.

The washout area is almost at the bottom of the bluff.  It is a small area, only perhaps six feet long and three feet wide, where half of the pavement and a bench have tumbled down the bluff.  I am so dismayed that the most interesting section of the Sunset Greenway Trail has been closed for all this time because of such an insignificant defect.

The end of the Sunset Greenway Trail along the Missouri River.

The end of the Sunset Greenway Trail along the Missouri River.

I was nervous the first time I scooted around the broken section back in the spring because the damage had been new then.  Perhaps my weight would cause more chunks of pavement to slide down the slope.  But now many months later I see that the washed out area has grown no larger.  I don’t even flinch this time as I wheel around the missing pavement.

The last quarter of a mile is just above the river level and is occasionally flooded.  When the trail is open, the city scrapes the remaining mud off of the trail after floodwaters have receded.  In the spring, this area was covered with thick mud and impassable.  I had to turn around.  Today the trail is still covered but the mud has dried we are able to continue to the end over the hard packed rutted dirt.

The lowland area at the end of the trail has become a rutted dirt path.

The lowland area at the end of the trail has become a rutted dirt path.

Benches and another informational sign mark the end of the trail.  We stand there for a while watching the Missouri flow languidly by.  I snap a few photos.  And then it is time to crank back up the steep switchbacks to the top.

Back on top of the bluff, we rest at a picnic table and enjoy a snack of Sport Beans and Honey Stinger Waffles while we enjoy the view.  The sun is beginning to peak out shyly through the clouds.  What a wonderful bike ride this has been!!  We retrace our steps back over the trail to St. Ferdinand Shrine and then back home.  18 miles of cycling fun is done!

The reward is this lovely view of the Missouri River.

The reward is this lovely view of the Missouri River.

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