Valles Mines, Missouri, U S A
Founded in 1749 by Francois Valle years before he became Commandante of the Fort of Sainte Genevieve and The King of Spain made him Don Francois Valle for saving their Fort San Carlos (now St. Louis).
270 years later as The Valle Mining Company, his 4000+ acre property every year absorbs 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 14,000 tons of oxygen, enough to meet the needs of 63,000 people. [USDA Forest Facts]
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Mountain Biking near St. Louis

St. Joe Park? The Katie Trail? No, ruins of old mining villages..

Exploring 252 year old ridge roads and ruins means reliving the patterns left from settlements long since gone. Follow new roads paved with asphalt then duck up into chat roads and trails abandoned even centuries ago. Follow mining haul roads only wide enough for a team of oxen up to the Crowbar Mine on top of Hill 1133, one of the highest hills in Jefferson or Ste. Francois County where you can see for 5 ridges on a clear day.

"From the Radio Tower, I rode downhill for miles. Pack a lunch and something cold to drink. I wish I had."

Legend has it that Valles Mines holds 8 Secrets, the Lost Villages. So far we have found 6 of them:

  • oldtown Valles Mines,
  • Halifax,
  • Prospect School,
  • Tunnel Station,
  • The Big Lode Mine and
  • The Garottee Mine.

The Bisch and the Perry remain lost since the Civil War, possibly destroyed purposely to keep them from the enemy's hands. Mining ended 95 years ago but the roads and trails still connect the ghost villages, deep inside the boundaries of the property. Road systems connect everything: The Rock Road forms a central 5.5 mile ring that goes to the General Store in the old town, Tunnel Station and The Big Lode Mines. It joins French Village Road at Buster (Cemetery) Crossing and from Halifax goes eventually to Ste. Genevieve. Back in the interior it seems you cannot get farther away from the city and still be this close by. Start at the ATT Radio Tower at the top of the mountain and then it's downhill ride for miles.

Or stay entirely on paved County Roads. From the General Store past the Old Dairy Farm to Hardin Road past Cole Lake to Silver Springs Roads to Berry Road past the Radio Tower back to Valles Mines School Road to the General Store makes it 12 miles around the outside of the property on paved county roads. If you liked the Katie Trail, try the former railroad (MRBT or Mississippi River and Bonne Terre) right of way.

Visitors need permission

You must purchase a seasonal or daily permit. Call 573-631-6875 to buy a permit, get directions, orientation, etc. We are privately owned and pay our own insurance and taxes. So buying a permit helps our efforts to maintain the lands you ride over as well as our efforts to preserve wildlife and upgrade our timber stands. Call the Superintendent at 573-631-6875 for details. The place takes some getting used to. Many square miles with abandoned county roads, trails, lakes, lookout points, etc. make it possible to get lost easily, often for hours. If this is not what you want to do, we recommend you stay on familiar trails to start with. Compass or GPS users might like to download our GPS map. If you use quad sheets for your maps, you may need Halifax, Bonne Terre, French Village or Vineland, depending on where you go.


  • Park at the General Store (14117 Valles Mines School Road), ride past the old smelter chimney to county Road V,
  • LT 100 yds. to the Valles Mines Post Office (63087) on county V-Road, past Huck's. Take on supplies. Last call for munchies. LT on Sunrise School briefly,
  • LT on Valles Mines [not 'School', that's back where you started] Road. The road bends at Buster Cemetery so you're approaching the Lakes (check the Canada geese on Lake Mina).
  • Go 1/4 mile, after the Old Dairy Farm property on the right and after the S turns, the road will T into Hardin Road. Turn left.
  • After you come down a long hill, turn LT at Cole Lake onto Silver Springs Road.
  • Turn left on Berry Road/Old Hwy 67. Pass the Radio Tower on the left, bear left onto Valles Mines School Road [If you T into a major highway, Hwy 67, you have gone too far. If you see a trailor with concrete deer in the front yard on your right, you're going the right way on Valles Mines School Road].
  • After the blacktop road, there is still a short patch of old fahioned country road (unpaved and downhill) so heads up. Follow this past 14161 Valles Mines School Road to 14117 to return to your car.