This was a very easy hike - we did about 7.5 miles total but it was kind of boring - there was not much to see as the trail is mostly either walking through large fields or through cleared wooded areas. (You don't really come close to the trees at all). The trails are all pretty straight and nothing very exciting. I would think this would be good for first time hikers or runners. Signs were bad and / or non-existent, so it was hard to tell how far you had traveled.
This is a below average trail in my opinion. There really aren't many great view or interesting geography going on with this trail. That being said the trails are very wide and would be great if you are a trail runner as they are very flat. There is a neat "beach" just off the trail on the southwest corner of the island where you can relax a little and enjoy the rivers edge. There did seem to be a high population of white tailed deer on the island so keep an eye out for them if your going to spend your day there. As a side note, there is a small airport nearby thus there are a verity of small single engine planes flying overhead on a regular basis.
We went in early spring, so we fortunately didn't have to deal with the mosquitos or weeds. Trail is wide enough for 2 ATVs to pass each other easily. That coupled with the abundance of tire tracks makes the trail feel more like a road. It is flat and pretty boring for the majority of the walk. There were some nice parts, but the whole walk felt more like we were just going from point A to B than exploring an interesting trail.
Things did get more interesting towards the end of the trail when it goes right along the river. The reeds get really dense at this point, and some areas were up to 6' tall. This part of the trail also had at least 2 areas where the entire trail was washed out by the river, and we had to find our way to the trail ahead on our own. This part of the trail was also much sandier and a little slower going.
There is also the Chesterfield airport and a shooting range nearby. So expect to hear many planes and constant gunfire (about midway through the hike).
All in all, I'm glad we finally walked it, but I doubt we'll ever go again. It's a boring trail with relatively boring visuals.
Amy L. on Howell Island Loop
This is not a trail, it was a clearing in the woods. The weeds were taller than us for 2 miles then the so called trail just kind of ended at a field with weeds taller than us. We turned around and followed the path we just made back out of there. It is also being taken over by bamboo.
Tami H. on Howell Island Loop
Horrible trail. I went last summer. It was overgrown and my friend ended up with chiggers. The signs were covered in vines. We gave a biker one of our maps, as he was completed lost and weren't much better, but had an extra map. I will NOT be back!
Great trail for the winter months. It is a bit difficult to figure out just where the trail is so we did one big loop on the Island. Straight in and back. I have a GPS which is a $125 compass.
The Mosquitos will attack you in the summer. I mean they are thick but then you'll figure that out when you get there.
Michael G. on Howell Island Loop
I did not hike the trail but used this as a place to launch my canoe. The family headed down river from the lower side of the low water bridge and paddled to the page extension and hopped of the river on the St. Charles. We had a second car at the parking lot at the top of the hill. Make sure you bring something to help pull your canoe to the top of the hill it is quite a portage (about .3 mile) There are some nice sand bars to hang out on too.
One big 7 mile loop. Stay on trail. I have hiked it and biked it. Riding can be tough thru the meadow areas, but one you get on hard packed dirt, you move quicker. Somewhat scenic. Good workout. I have hiked into the tree line, and if you are inexperienced, you can get disoriented, as the old trail disappears. A good GPS is recommended if you go off trail Suggest even a topo map. Remember, this is in the general area where mountain lions (no kidding) have been spotted. And there is a healthy deer population on the island. Parking is on the east side of a slough and ford. No access in high water. If you are on the island during upstream rain events, you could be caught by high water if the ford goes under.