Every inch of the St. Louis Riverfront Trail is like riding through an episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. The first few miles of asphalt begin just north of Laclede's Landing and weave across the floodwall protecting north St. Louis, which means your view alternates between the mighty Mississippi and local specimens of industrial might. Don't mind the smell of recently receded floodwaters, exhaust fumes from the big-ass cranes or the junkyard — just marvel at the beasts that made this city great, and know that the faster you ride, the sooner you'll see some greenery. A couple of spots around mile seven are even momentarily bucolic, and during a recent morning ride we spotted a doe, a groundhog and a rafter of turkeys to go along with the ubiquitous rabbits and songbirds. As you near the terminus at Chain of Rocks Bridge, stop and chat with the fishermen or search for signs of the old Chain of Rocks Amusement Park as you ride up the bluffs overlooking the water-treatment plant. From the bridge, you can continue to Chouteau Island and ride five miles down to the barge locks or up fourteen miles to Alton, Illinois. But we prefer to pause for a few moments in the middle of the bridge before riding the eleven miles back downtown. Stand at the railing and gaze southward above the swirling water and through the haze toward the distant city skyline. Behold what you've accomplished, and contemplate the solitary journey that lies ahead.
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