Top Places to go for a Jog in St Louis

Two Top Spots, Two Divergent Venues to Run in St. Louis

I spent three weeks in St. Louis on business and followed my usual travel routine by finding some good running venues so that I could maintain my daily exercise program. I was staying downtown so I wanted something convenient for when I just wanted to lace up and go, however I always like to have an alternate route to keep from getting bored, preferably a rural venue with a lot of open air and foliage. It didn’t take long to settle on the historic St. Louis waterfront and Forest Park as my two choices.

If you are a runner it is advisable to do some research before you get to your destination. There are many fine resources on the Internet that will provide bike and hiking trails, recreation areas and local park systems. There are also searchable websites like runtheplanet.com and mapmyrun.com that provide routes recommended by runners.

Whenever I travel to a new destination my first move upon arrival is to strike up a conversation with someone working in or around the hotel, preferably a local with an appreciation for the outdoors. Not everyone is a runner so I’ve always been successful talking in general terms about outdoor activities, hiking paths or walking routes. Coming off as an obsessed, maniacal runner will turn off about 90 percent of the population whereas most people can relate to being outside exercising opposed to confined in a hotel room.

I stayed downtown at a hotel across the street from Busch Stadium which was just a short walk, or jog to the waterfront. The area is an appealing urban setting with the new ballpark and Kiener Plaza as you approach the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial where the famous Gateway Arch is located. Once you enter the park run under the Gateway and go either right or left towards the river and descend the stairs to the sidewalk along Leonor K Sullivan Blvd. Running under the gateway arch is majestic. It is a rising 630′ stainless steel faade that makes it difficult to keep your eyes off of and you can feel the power of the structure when running between the huge triangular legs which also stand 630′ apart.

Run north, which is upstream along the river, under the famous Eads bridge and past the casino boat and you will see a large sign for the start of the Riverfront trail. The paved bike trail runs along the river for about ten miles but you can adjust the distance to suit yourself. If you run to the west side of the flood control wall you will be roughly 1.5 miles for a turnaround but you could continue for over a twenty-mile loop. The north side of the trail is your best bet because traveling south is mostly industrial landscape and not very aesthetic. Additionally, depending on time of day there can be a wide variation in the number of runners, bikers and tourist. So for safety purposes I would beware of running alone too early or late in the day.

For a more rural venue without leaving the city there is the 1,293 acre Forest Park. On a historical note, the grounds were the scene of the 1904 World’s Fair which drew more than 20 million visitors. The park is a lovely amalgamation of ponds, gardens, museums, buildings, a golf course and the St Louis Zoo, all of which allows you to let your mind wonder and take in the many diversified settings. Forest Park is versatile enough to accommodate a run anywhere between 3-10 miles. The outer loop is approximately six miles but the bike trail snakes through the park with roughly ten miles of paved trail.

I’ve traveled far and wide across this great country and have yet to find a city or town that didn’t offer great options for running, and St. Louis is no exception. Remember to do your advance homework, but if all else fails follow my method and ask a local. Whatever you chose to do should result in a good workout.