Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Best urban hiking in St. Louis

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Best urban hiking in St. Louis

St. Louis may be one of the greatest cities in the world for urban hiking. You don’t even have to leave the city to find a great hike with lots of interesting things to see. One of the great benefits to urban hiking in St. Louis is that most of the best locations have a variety of paths from challenging inclines to flat surfaces, and can provide both cardiovascular and mental stimulation to the hiker. 




Even better than that, you can visit each of the following locations for free. So lace up and let’s go.


Forest Park


This park is huge and right in the middle of St. Louis. It is home to the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Science Center, the MUNY, the Missouri History Museum and more. The park itself was opened in 1876, not long after the Civil War, and has been a popular natural oasis in the center of the city ever since. 

There are more attractions within the nearly 1300 acre park than a person could visit in a whole week of exploring, but if you really love hiking, don’t miss the Forest Park Nature Trails.

Grant’s Farm


President Ulysses S. Grant bought a piece of land in south St. Louis County in the 1850’s and turned it into a farm. That farm eventually became the home of the Busch family and is now run as a park and nature center by Anheuser-Busch Inc. Part of the farm is still dedicated to the famous Clydesdales of Budweiser fame. 

The Fans of Grant’s Farm have been working to make sure that it is preserved for generations to come, and you can enjoy a great hike around the farm for only the cost of parking from mid-April through Halloween.

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial


Home of the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial also includes a gorgeous park full of trails and trees and a spectacular view of the Mississippi River. Admission to the large Museum of Westward Expansion in the base of the Arch is free, and it is a great place to cool down after a summer hike. 

Want to really boost your workout during your hike? Make a couple of trips up and down the Grand Staircase on the river side of the Arch, down to the levee below. You’ll feel like a real contender.

Laumeier Sculpture Park


Donated in 1968, the Laumeier Sculpture Park is a beautiful setting in which pieces of fine art mingle with nature. The 105 acre park has beautiful trails to explore, is free of charge and welcomes you to hike with your leased canine companion. If you love art, nature and dogs, Laumeier may be the perfect urban hiking experience for you.



Missouri Botanical Garden


Set on 79 acres in central St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden is home to an amazing variety of plant species, a geodesic rainforest dome, a butterfly house, numerous pieces of sculpture and a collection of historic Victorian buildings. Children can explore a world class children’s garden with tree houses, slides, a cave, rope bridges, and their own general store among many other amenities. 

Admission is free to St. Louis city and county residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays before noon. Your hike through the garden can be short and leisurely or long and vigorous, but whichever you choose, the Missouri Botanical Garden is likely to be the most beautiful urban hiking experience in the city.