While the sign says "8 mile" the portion of the trail that is along the bluffs and in the woods is 1.3 miles and runs from White to Elmwood. This post covers just that portion.
It's a trail of mild difficulty.... a few logs to climb/step over. But you will have to have waterproof footwear that is suitable for various path conditions.
There is a little trash at the very beginning of the trail but none after the first few yards.
This is the last remnant of a double-wide set of stairs that went from Gladstone Boulevard at Topping down to the railroad yards below. Built by the railroad to make getting to work easier for the railroad and mill workers who lacked automobiles or who didn't mind the walk.
Looking down to the foot of the bluff where all the springs drain to form a "fen": a marshy area that is home to thousands of frogs and other aquatic life.
Closeup of the fen with it's algae rich water.
Spring number 1.
Spring number 2. There are a succession of springs that flow year round down the hillside and across the trail. Some have strategically place rocks or small foot bridges but some require you to walk in mud.
Entrance to my favorite spot on the Trail, Maple Grove. In a couple of weeks these leaves will all have turned to bright yellow. It's beautiful. I'll post some fall color shots of Maple Grove when they reach their peak.
Looking north from the trail... Chouteau Trafficway over the tracks in the background.
Spring number 3.
Spring number 4. Although it doesn't look like much here, the flow really picks up further down the bluff.
More Maple Grove.
Maple Grove looking north from the trail down the bluff.
Same spot looking south up the bluff.
Eastern side of Maple Grove.
The trail is maintained by Boy Scout Troops who can actually earn a merit badge for hiking the whole length of the route.
Spring number 5.
Scouts have put a walkway over Spring 5... it's very welcome.
Spring 6 above and below.
Tenacity. Watched this tree grow over the last 20 years and split the rock.
You can exit up here... but the trail isn't through yet. This is at Gladstone Blvd. and Lawn.
Old remains from when Cliff Drive was constructed beginning in 1890. The little structure above held the blasting caps for affixing to the dynamite which was stored in the building below. Both were intact (roofs and all) until the 60s when they were leveled to keep hobos from setting up house.
Spring number 7. Deer particularly like this one. I don't know why.
I call these the "Five Sisters"... one sister is hiding behind the trunk on the left.
There are a lot of very old trees along the trail.
Spring number 8 above and below. This one has the largest flow of any along the bluffs. The path it takes down the hill is another old railroad/mill walkway that the workman used to go to and from their job sites.
Final part of the wooded trail heading up to Cliff Drive.
You come out here by the east entrance to Cliff Drive (at Elmwood). One can continue on along the 2+ mile length of the Drive and make a day of it.