Trail of the Week: Black Buffalo Trail

2012-07-29T00:00:00Z 2012-08-01T12:35:07Z Trail of the Week: Black Buffalo TrailBY HARRY JACKSON JR. • harry.jackson@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8234 stltoday.com

The low Missouri River level provides an opportunity to look at the river/chute bottom structure and maybe find a fishing hole or two.

Where • Sioux Passage Park, 17930 Old Jamestown Road, Florissant.

How long • 2.54 miles. There's also a half-mile nature trail.

Surface • Gravel, rock and dirt.

Difficulty • Easy-moderate. Lots of hills, but no deep valleys or peaks. The ground is dry, and the trees have remained lush enough to produce some cool, shady spots.

Can be used for • Hiking, bicycling, horseback riding.

User's notes • The walk is through a thick stand of trees. At the northeastern end of the trail, the Sioux Passage Park Nature Trail runs about a half-mile along the river and includes an overlook of the chute. It normally spills into the Missouri River, but this year it's more like a rock bridge shore. Shore birds in early morning and evenings still find the wet places where their food is more exposed. Most of the dead carp and shad trapped in the shallows have been eaten by scavengers. But a few have managed to stay alive in deeper pools. The rushing water where the chute feeds into the river is gone, and sun-bleached rocks and sand remain and have been there long enough that plants are growing. Another downside: The pools without the moving water have birthed a robust population of mosquitoes. And if you decide to walk on the dry areas to Pelican Island, the state conservation officials ask people to thoroughly clean their shoes and boots afterward to prevent the spread of invasive algae species to lakes, ponds and trout streams.

Handicapped access • Not really.

Facilities • Restrooms along and away from the trail.

Parking • At the entrance and along the roadway to the river.

Pets • On leash; control them when horses or off-road bicycles pass.

Information • alturl.com/38poa or 314-615-7275.

TRAIL NOTES

Augustfest Bicycle Ride

What • Rides of 16, 29, 41 or 53 miles through the German-settled countryside. Food, drinks and games after the ride. It's part of Mascoutah's annual German Heritage Festival. The rides are flat with some small hills.

When • Registration 7:30 to 9 a.m. Aug. 5.

Where • Scheve Park, Sixth and Harnett Streets, Mascoutah.

How much • $8 members, $13 nonmembers, $3 children.

More information • Trailnet.org or josie@trailnet.org, 314-436-1324 ext. 111.

WEBSITES YOU SHOULD KNOW

St. Louis Orienteering Club

sloc.us.orienteering.org/

This group teaches how to navigate forests using a compass and terrain map. It sponsors regular races, training sessions and accommodates serious international competitors or folks who just want an interesting stroll.

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