Today, the term “enabler” seems to get used most often in a negative way, such as when someone promotes a destructive type of behavior in another person. But it can also be used in a positive sense, as in the case of empowerment.
The Busch Greenway, a Great Rivers Greenway’s initiative located in St. Charles County off Interstate 64/MO Route 40, is an enabler in the best sense of the word.
The 4.7-mile ribbon of pavement connects the Katy and Hamburg trails and the Weldon Spring and August A. Busch conservation areas. It allows people at the Missouri Research Park to step outside and get in some walking, running or biking during lunch, or before or after work. Ditto students and faculty at Francis Howell High School.
While it’s not a lengthy trail in and of itself, the greenway acts as a gateway to all sorts of adventure: Hit the Hamburg, catch the Katy at mile marker 56 and then close the loop using the Busch Greenway to make a 13.1-mile circuit that’s a great training route for half-marathoners. The trail passes right by the historic Thomas Howell Cemetery, and there’s a natural rain garden near the northern end.
Not to far away, just down the Hamburg from the rain garden, the Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center is worth a visit, if only to discover how and why a 75-foot-high “disposal cell” (mound) here contains 1.5 million cubic yards of waste from old TNT and uranium ore processing plants.
The 6,987-acre Busch Conservation Area, also nearby and connected to the greenway via a gravel spur, contains 3,000 acres of forest in addition to grassland, cropland, prairie and wetlands. There are boat rentals, picnic areas and pavilions, hiking trails, fishing jetties and docks, staffed firearms and archery ranges, five viewing blinds and a visitor center. In other words, no shortage of outdoor options.
Completed in April 2015, the Busch Greenway “starts” at mile marker 52.1 on the Katy Trail as a paved connector between it and the Duckett Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 3/4-mile section crosses a bridge over a rippling creek and roams through beautiful hardwood forest on its way to the Duckett Creek Trailhead, where Momentum Cycles of St. Peters and O’Fallon has installed a self-service bicycle maintenance station for airing up tires or fixing flats.
Next, the path winds up a steep hill and then cruises through the Missouri Research Park on gently rolling hills that offer views of the 200-acre research and development park and surrounding landscape. Curving west, the greenway parallels Highway 94 and eventually passes underneath it via two corrugated metal tunnels, where it meets the rain garden. (The Hamburg branches off to the left here; it is important to note that the Hamburg is not road-bike friendly, and if you are going to ride it, mountain bike or hybrid tires are best.)
The paved trail ends at Highway D, but you can continue on a 3/4-mile gravel trail that leads to the Busch Conservation Area Visitor Center.
In short, the Busch Greenway makes a pleasant option for users of all ages and skill levels. It’s a great “first step” into the St. Charles/Weldon Spring area and a catalyst for outdoor recreation along the Highway 94 corridor.
Length: 4.7 miles
Best for: Running, walking, bicycling
Parking: Duckett Creek, Research Park Drive and MO-94 Parking Lot
Amenities: Parking, benches, drinking water, self-service bicycle maintenance station
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor of Terrain magazine