Take a Hike! Best Spots to Stretch Your Legs
(Hiking at Pere Marquette State Park. Photo by Mike Cruz.)
Lace up the sneakers, air up the tires on the bike and take a journey along the miles and miles of paved trails available throughout the Great Rivers & Routes region.
Experience for yourself the history and cultural institutions, and, of course, panoramic views, along the 85 miles of paved trails in Madison County. From Staunton along the edges of Route 66 down to the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Madison County Transit has developed looped and stand alone trails.
If getting back to nature is more your idea of a hiking adventure, discover the miles of stunning natural trails that criss-cross the region on or near the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway.
Nature & Hiking Trails
The Audubon Center at Riverlands
301 Riverlands Way, West Alton
Five different trails run throughout the Riverlands Mirgratory Bird Sanctuary. Trails range from 1 to 3 miles long.
Gordon Moore Park
4550 College Ave., Alton
Walk among the trickling streams of the Oriental Garden Trail or The Nature Institute’s Prairie Trail. Stop and smell the roses in the Nan Elliott Memorial rose Garden.
LaVista Park to Clifton Terrace Park
241 W. Delmar, Godfrey
This 1-mile trail along the river bluffs winds through beautiful wooded areas and alongside a creek as it makes its way down to the waters of the Mississippi River.
The Nature Institute
2213 S. Levis Ln., Godfrey
Hiking trails in this 300-acre nature preserve follow small streams, upland forests and the steep limestone bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.
1401 Stamper Ln., Godfrey
Three miles of walking trails throughout this 120-acre park featuring two ponds and lots of scenic views. In the fall check out the Great Godfrey Corn Maze.
Mc Cully Heritage Project
R.R. #1, Kampsville
More than 15 miles of trails wind through the 940 acres of this scenic wonderland in Calhoun County. Access to horseback riding trails is available with advance arrangements.
Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge
HCR 82 Brussels
This federal refuge is an important link for migrating birds. The Gilbert Lake Trail is the perfect place to view wildlife in the floodplain forests.
(MCT Trails -- Photo by Mike Cruz)
Biking & Hiking Trails
MCT Bluff Trail
New Poag Rd., Edwardsville
Travel along the Great American Bottoms‘ ancient bluff line on two miles of paved trails on the SIUE campus.
Confluence Bike Trail
Alton to Granite City
This 20.5 mile paved trail follows the Mississippi River from Alton to Granite City. Stops include the National Great Rivers Museum, Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower and the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site. Be sure to bike or hike across the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge for breathtaking views of the river.
MCT Goshen Trail
Edwardsville & Glen Carbon
Ten tunnels and a 175-foot bridge highlight this 8-mile trail connecting Troy to Edwardsville/Glen Carbon area trails.
MCT Nature Trail
Edwardsville & Granite City
This well-traveled 15-mile paved trail winds through woods, spans area creeks and is a favorite hang out for local wildlife.
MCT Nickel Plate Trail
New Douglas to Pontoon Beach
Stretching over 28 miles across farmland, woods and urban areas, this combination paved and limestone trail passes near Glen Carbon’s Miner Park and the Edwardsville Children’s Museum.
MCT Quercus Grove Trail
Staunton, Hamel, Worden, & Edwardsville
Historic Route 66 communities are connected with this 18.9 mile paved and limestone trail. Start in Staunton in the north and end in Edwardsville. Maybe stop in at Weezy’s in Hamel for refreshments or Yellow Dog Café & Bar in Worden.
MCT Ronald J. Foster Heritage Trail
Explore the historic community Glen Carbon along this paved 12 miles trail. Highlights include the Glen Carbon Covered Bridge and connections to local parks.
The Goat Cliff Trail at Pere Marquette State Park
The difficulty level of this trail is easy to moderate and extends for one and 1/2 miles. Hikers stand on the Cap au Gres Fault and pass by underground springs gushing out from under the trail. It ends at McAdams Peak, where hikers can gaze into three different bodies of water and see an Indian burial mound nearby.
The Dogwood Trail at Pere Marquette State Park
This trail is a short 1/2 mile trip that loops hikers from the visitors center, past a scenic outlook of wetlands and the Illinois River and back to the visitors center. Pawpaw, sugar maple and sumac trees sway overhead hikers.
The Ridge Trail at Pere Marquette State Park
This is a 1/4 mile long trail and because of its steep upward slope is the most difficult. It also ends at McAdams Peak. At this spot, visitors have a unique opportunity to look down at the American Bald Eagles rather than up at them.
The Ravine Trail at Pere Marquette State Park
Running along the Ridge and Dogwood Trails, this 1/2 mile route cuts deep into the land and circles through the prairie. During the fall, this is a great place to search for elephant ear, puffball and moral mushrooms. Little bluestem, big bluestem, Indian grass and side-oats grama prairie grass also grow in this area.
The Hickory Trails, Fern Hollow, Rattlesnake and Oak Trails at Pere Marquette State Park
These all connect to one another and total five and 3/4 miles of hiking trails. They are more secluded than the other trails and cut through the oldest forest areas of the park. It is common to see deer, turkey and some of the many 230 types of birds in this tranquil and isolated part of the park.
Twin Mounds is a great stop along this trail system. It provides a dramatic panoramic view of the surrounding park and the 372 feet below. On a clear day, the St. Louis skyline and Arch is seen far to the left. All trails at Pere Marquette State Park are open year round. Call the Pere Marquette State Park Visitors Center at (618) 786-3323 for additional information on the trails.