Exercise in the city should never have to be about treadmills and smog. St. Louis’ beautiful trails and parks provide the perfect reprieve from traffic, trains and trudging through sludge when the weather isn’t perfect. These are the city’s top trails, offering gorgeous scenery and routes every runner will love.

Photo credit: crevecoueurlake.com

Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park
2143 Creve Coeur Mill Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63146
(314) 615-4386

Hours: daily – 8 a.m. until a half hour past official sunset

Part of the St. Louis County Parks System, Creve Coeur Park’s 2,114 acres in West St. Louis County promise nearly perfect running. The lake was the site of the St. Louis County Fair for 30 years, starting in the late 1880s. Creve Coeur Park includes a picnic area, an archery course, tennis courts and a 320-acre lake. The flat, paved jogging trail loops around the lake and continues through wooded areas. It also connects to the Katy Trail, also one of the best jogging trails in St. Louis. There are rest rooms and a drinking fountain at Fisherman’s Wharf. Try one of several area loops including 3.7-mile Lakeview Loop, 2.8-mile Meadows Loop, 2.8-mile Creve Coeur Connector and 2.6-mile Mallard Lake Loop.

Photo Credit: bikegrantstrail.com

Grants Trail
4398 Hoffmeister Ave.
St Louis, MO 63123
(314) 615-4386

Hours: Half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset

Grants trail is an 8-mile long, flat and wide path in southwest Saint Louis County. It takes you past wooded areas, the Budweiser Clydesdale pastures and former President Ulysses Grant’s home. Runners may stray from the main path and run through the wooded trails of Whitecliff Park. Grants trail offers 11 parking lots in various locations, and plenty of bathrooms, vending machines and water fountains. The trail offers some shade and is relatively quiet except for weekends, when it can get a little crowded.

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Photo Credit: katytrailstatepark.com

Katy Trail State Park 
Missouri State Parks Dept
PO Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102
(800) 334-6946

Hours: sunrise to sunset

The Katy Trail is a 237-mile path extending across most of the state of Missouri. More than half of it follows the Lewis and Clark path up the Missouri River, following the river bluffs. As America’s longest rails-to-trail project, the path is flat and scenic. Runners find the crushed limestone trail surface perfect for long-distance running.  The Katy Trail is open year-round for those who don’t mind cold weather. Customize your route at the website katytrail.com.

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Forest Park 
5595 Grand Dr.
St Louis, MO 63112
(314) 289-5300

Hours: sunrise to 10 p.m.

St. Louis’ Forest Park, first dedicated in 1876, consists of 1,371.75 acres, making it one of the largest urban parks in the country. In 1904, Forest Park hosted the World’s Fair. Today, Forest Park boasts up to 10 million visitors a year. Besides running and walking, the park offers activities including softball, cricket, tennis, golf, archery, fishing, horseback riding, ice skating, biking and roller skating. The Forest Park Pedestrian Paths run throughout the park, and the hilly sections of the paths provide runners with a serious workout. Some sections provide a separate path for runners and walkers. The perimeter of the trail is about 6 miles long.

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Tower Grove Park 
4256 Magnolia Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63110
(314) 771-2679

Hours: sunrise to sunset

A municipal park in St. Louis, most of Tower Grove’s land was donated to the city by Henry Shaw in 1868. It sits on 289 acres adjacent to the Missouri Botanical Garden and extends 1.6 miles from west to east, between Kingshighway and Grand boulevards. It is bordered on the north by Magnolia Avenue and on the south by Arsenal Street. The park features 11 pavilions as well as tennis courts, a wading pool, softball diamonds and soccer fields. A national historic landmark, from May through October, it hosts a farmers’ market from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday mornings just west of the Wading Pool Pavilion. The jogging trail is 5 miles long, consisting of a 2-mile inside loop and a 3-mile outside loop. The trail is wide, flat and paved. It is relatively quiet and shady, with non-metered street parking along Arsenal.

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Janet Kontz is a Licensed Professional Counselor, specializing in family and parenting issues. She is an Active Parenting course leader and holds a Master of Arts degree in professional counseling. She has worked as a Foster Care Worker, a Substance Abuse Counselor, an Outpatient Adolescent Therapist and a Behavioral Coach. She currently teaches Technology and Writing. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.