The 6.7-mile point-to-point trail connects West Tyson and Lone Elk county parks, taking adventuresome trekkers up steep climbs and switchbacks, next to 20-foot rock walls and down to the Meramec River bottoms. A particularly grueling section known as "the Steps" features a climb along exposed Kimmswick Limestone. The multiuse trail is popular with mountain bikers; horses are also welcome.
Where East trail head is at Lone Elk County Park, 1 Lone Elk Park Road, St. Louis County • When 8 a.m. to a half-hour past sunset daily • More info 314-615-4386; stlouisco.com/parksandrecreation
Last summer, the east end of the 8-mile paved trail got a makeover and a 2,000 foot extension, thanks to the Mysun Charitable Foundation. Now after your ride or run, you can prop up your feet, enjoy the wildlife habitat and let your kids climb all over the play structure. For round-trippers, there are new bathrooms, a bike fix-it station and water fill-ups to help you power through.
Where • Multiple entranceways; east-end parking on Hoffmeister Avenue at Interstate 55 and Union Road; west-end parking off Holmes Avenue, at Interstate 44 and Big Bend Road • When Half-hour before sunrise to half-hour past sunset daily • More info 314-436-7009; bikegrantstrail.com
Hawn State Park
Hawn has a trail for every type of hiker: from a short jaunt that ends at an overlook to the nearly 10-mile Whispering Pines, one of the most challenging backpacking trails in the state. Geology nerds will appreciate the exposed rock types; tree lovers can drink in the pines, oaks and flowering dogwoods; and people who enjoy funny names should spend some time on the banks of Pickle Creek.
Where 8121 12096 Park Drive, Ste. Genevieve, Mo. • When 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily • More info 1-573-883-3603; mostateparks.com
On the 240-mile Katy, you can ride beneath the same river bluffs that Lewis and Clark saw as they traveled along the Missouri River more than 200 years ago. The limestone trail also meanders through farmland and gives a peek into small-town America. Many cross-country cyclists make the Katy a part of their trip through the heartland, so show off that Midwestern friendliness to your fellow travelers.
Where End points are in Machens and Clinton, Mo. • When Sunrise to sunset daily • More info 1-573-449-7402; bikekatytrail.com
Madison County Trails
The so-called “seven loops” of the MCT trail system can be configured dozens of ways to accommodate bikers, walkers, runners and in-line skaters. The loops range from 10 to 31 miles and dip into Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Collinsville, Pontoon Beach and Granite City. Ambitious sorts can branch off of the seven loops and head southwest through Horseshoe Lake State Park, east toward Marine Village Park or north for a dip into Macoupin County.
Where Dozens of bike lots in Madison County access the trails; the Metro East Park and Recreation District lot is at 104 United Drive, Collinsville • When Sunrise to sunset daily • More info 618-797-4600; mcttrails.org
Mina Sauk Falls Trail
With apologies to the Carpenters, in Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, you can be at the top of Missouri, looking down on creation. The nearly 4-mile Mina Sauk Falls Trail takes hikers to the state’s highest point in the St. Francois Mountains. The path is rocky and crosses some creeks — as well as the Mina Sauk Falls — so be sure to wear supportive shoes.
Where Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, Highway CC, Ironton, Mo. • When Sunrise to sunset daily • More info 1-573-546-2450; mostateparks.com
Mississippi River Greenway
If you've only been to the Gateway Arch, you're missing big chunks of history along our riverfront. The 12-mile Mississippi River Greenway winds through the old industrial part of downtown, past the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing, an Underground Railroad historic site. Riders and walkers can take in the expansiveness of the mighty river on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge before heading into Illinois.
Where Trailhead for the 15-mile path is at 699 North Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard; trail continues to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge • When Sunrise to sunset daily • More info 314-436-7009; greatriversgreenway.org
Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
Powder Valley, near Interstates 270 and 44, is a convenient spot for an impromptu commune with nature. The Broken Ridge, Hickory Ridge and Tanglevine trails combine for 2.5 miles, with varying difficulty. One leg is fully accessible with interpretive signs, and all three routes take you into close contact with the conservation area’s native plants and animals.
Where 11715 Cragwold Road, Kirkwood • When Grounds are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; buildings are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday • More info 314-301-1500; mdc.mo.gov
River Des Peres Greenway
Is there anything more South City than biking along the drainage system that is River Des Peres? Kidding aside, the 9.3-mile paved greenway has plenty of highlights, including connections to Willmore and Carondelet parks, playgrounds, a bicycle education area for the kiddos and sports fields. The sunny route is less congested than Grant’s Trail but includes some moderate hills, so slather on some sunscreen and prepare to pedal.
Where North end is at Ellendale and Canterbury avenues; south end is at Lemay Park, 236 Fannie Avenue • When Half-hour before sunrise to half-hour past sunset daily • More info 314-436-7009; greatriversgreenway.org
Weldon Spring Lewis and Clark Hiking Trail
Within the almost 8,400-acre Weldon Spring Conservation Area are two linked loops, the Lewis Trail and the Clark Trail. Together, they total about 8 miles, traversing the banks of the Missouri River, much like their namesake intrepid explorers. Except we have GPS. And better snacks. The trails are rated as somewhat strenuous.
Where 7394-7398 Missouri Highway 94, Weldon Spring • When 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily • More info 636-441-4554; mdc.mo.gov