In western St. Louis County, almost to St. Charles County, is the Monarch Levee protecting Chesterfield Valley (formerly known as Gumbo Flats) from the wrath of the Missouri River. I've written a bit about this trail before. Here's a picture of one of the Rest Areas along the route.
Having recently walked the nice trail along the Meramec River in Valley Park, MO, I'm less pleased with the Monarch Trail. Why? The Meramec River trail is far less buggy. The Missouri River at this point has back waters and marshes that are great breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other annoying noseeums. The Monarch trail is also the highest point in the area, allowing cold winds to hit you off the river. This same problem occurs at Creve Coeur Lake even tho' the trail is not on a levee. There is little shade along the Monarch. Most of the Meramec trail is shaded. Highway noise is a bit of an issue for both trails, but since the Monarch parallels I-64/40 for much of its length, it's a bit more annoying there.
Both trails are level and paved. Both meander through potentially lovely scenery, but the Monarch has one side pretty much devoted to baseball diamonds and retail outlets. There is none of that along the Meramec trail.
I have not walked the full 17 miles of the Monarch trail. I know it does go to the property those of us who grew up in St. Louis will recall fondly as the Rombach Pumpkin Farm (which I believe is still in business). We and our children have carefully selected just the right pumpkin each Fall on this property, all of which was inundated by the 1993 floods. I do want to walk the stretch of the Monarch that goes by the Rombach Family Cemetary. I'll get to that this FAll, I'm sure.
The Meramec trail also has the benefit of being much closer to my home. It's a 20 minute or longer trip to the Monarch trail if there's no traffic.
Both trails have their good points and I'm grateful that such greenways are becoming more prevalent in the St. Louis area. Having new trails to investigate keeps me walking more.
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