Best Place to Hike - 2005
Pere Marquette State Park
Do you know what one of the very best things about St. Louis is? It's really easy to get out of, into the surrounding green. You try that in New York or LA, Mr. and Ms. The-Coasts-Are-the-Most. Sprawl and all, we're still graced with a pastoral plenitude. Ergo, great hiking. Witness the paths at Pere Marquette State Park. Marquette, the largest of Illinois' state parks, is flat-out beautiful; you should go just to go. Its ten trails range from easy to moderate to difficult. Don't smoke? Try the quarter-mile Ridge Trail, which is to "difficult" as al-Zarqawi is to "cruel bastard." It's a tough uphill climb, but at its terminus is the prize of a high, clear vista of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers ambling through the country below. Up there the words "heaven's gate" might suggest themselves, and you will be happy hearing the news the trees, the wind and the long waters bring.