Three trails of St. Louis for three levels of mountain bikers

the outdoor student vol. II


Mark Gaskill

A view of the Meramec from a Castlewood trail.

Every year, millions of people enjoy the outdoors through biking. Today, I’m going to talk about some of the various trails in and around St. Louis. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran of mountain biking, there is something for everyone. I, for one, dislike paved trails. It feels to manufactured and detracts from the adventure. I have made sure these trails feel adventurous and stay away from the pavement.

Beginner: Al Foster

Just new to biking? Want something easy? The Al Foster is a great and very easy trail that has you in the woods on a trail away from the busy paved paths, without all the hills, narrow paths, and hazards of the more advanced trails. It is a very straight and flat path around three miles long. It isn’t the most exciting trail, especially for experienced bikers. Directions and more information on the Al Foster trail can be found here.

Intermediate: Bluff View

The Bluff View trail is one of my personal favorites. It is a five mile round-trip that connects to the Al Foster trail. The trail has a rough climb that ends with a breathtaking view. I always bike with some food in my bag so I can enjoy a lunch on top of the bluff. This trail is an intermediate trail, so great for anyone who has some experience dirt trails. Be prepared for a few steep climbs and narrow paths, but the view at the top is worth it. An alternate trail to the Bluff view is the Rock Hollow trail. Directions and more information on the Bluff View trail can be found here.

Advanced: Castlewood

Pro mountain biker? Ready for some rough trails and difficult terrain? Some of the trails in Castlewood might be for you. There are many trails in Castlewood, the most advanced of which is the Chubb trail. If you attempt some of these hardcore paths, be ready to stumble, fall, and crash. Directions and more information about Castlewood trails can be found here.

If you are interested in more trails around St. Louis, Gorc trails has lists of trails, their difficulty, trail condition, and more. Also, directions to the mentioned trails can be found there.

Just remember, before you hit the trail, make sure you have plenty of water, be well equipped and people know where you are. It’s a bad idea to go biking (or anything really) without people knowing your whereabouts, because if you get lost or hurt nobody will know where to look. Make sure your bike is capable of mountain biking too. Bikes with narrow tires and weak frames can be really hard to ride and can be damaged riding hard trails.