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Illinois Trails

St. Louis: Fern Hollow Goat Cliff Loop

On this 6.8-mile loop, you'll find reclaimed prairies, sacred Indian grounds, and scenic overlooks of the lakes and rivers surrounding St. Louis.

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Mapped by Bill Yearout

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 10.8

Waypoints

GCL001

Location: 38.9728584289551, -90.5423736572266

Start with stiff climb N on Hickory Trail, then flatten out and parallel ridge E to blufftop

GCL002

Location: 38.9790802001953, -90.5302276611328

R @ Y onto Fern Hollow Trail; path ducks under overgrown sections

GCL003

Location: 38.9743690490723, -90.5281372070312

Reach bottom slope of ridge; wind through watercourses back to crest

GCL004

Location: 38.9797592163086, -90.5176467895508

L @ Y; ahead, cross road (stay with Fern Hollow Trail)

GCL005

Location: 38.9814796447754, -90.5312728881836

R @ T onto Hickory North Trail; downhill into ravine and up again

GCL006

Location: 38.9800109863281, -90.5380172729492

R @ T onto Hickory Trail; pass CCC-built Twin Shelter. Views open S over St. Louis and the Gateway Arch soaring over the Mississippi River

GCL007

Location: 38.9788513183594, -90.5409317016602

R @ Y; pass Twin Mounds, a prairie maintained via prescribed burns and ringed with bluestem (IL state flower), Indian grass, sunflowers. Great for fall color viewing, too

GCL008

Location: 38.9786796569824, -90.5429000854492

Pass McAdams Peak Shelter and turn R onto Goat
Cliff Trail

GCL009

Location: 38.981029510498, -90.5432968139648

McAdams Peak is on an ancient Illini Indian burial mound. In the late 1800s, a Smithsonian dig led by archaeologist William McAdams uncovered 100 skeletons. Enjoy vista of Illinois River, grain elevators rising like skyscrapers. Descend on Goat Cliff Trail around E side of hill

GCL010

Location: 38.9840812683106, -90.5428924560547

Head S above Eagle Lake and by Goat Cliffs

GCL011

Location: 38.9735908508301, -90.5444488525391

Bottom out @ Goat Cliff trailhead and hike .1 mi. E back to vehicle