Robinson Bluff continues to evolve into more than a Missouri rock climbing destination; its recent unveiling of mountain biking trails adds miles of new downhill adventure. In addition to a two-mile cross country loop, the park’s 11 downhill trails offer beginner-to-advanced riders a hefty number of natural and built features. It’s not just the uniqueness of these features, but also the sheer quantity that make the new bike park a worthy attraction in-and-of itself.
While the St. Louis mountain biking scene has a lot to offer, Robinson Bluff’s trail builder, Eric Lewis, says these new trails are unlike any of the other local trail systems.
“There isn’t anything like it in St. Louis,” Eric said. “We’ve had some ex-pro riders test out the jumps and they agree.”
That’s because Eric fashioned them after Colorado’s famed downhill trails.
“I got a lot of ideas in Colorado,” he said. “When I came back, I knew exactly what I wanted to build.”
The six miles of new trails at Robinson Bluff include three machine-built flow/jump downhills, eight single track downhills and a cross country loop. The mountain bike trails start to the right of the pay station. Each of the numbered trails is marked with signs and is color coded.
Black Diamond Trails
Robinson Bluff’s three most difficult trails are steep and technical with tight corners, ledge drops and rocky, off-camber sections.
The eight, intermediate single-track trails are decked out with small berms, rock gardens and natural rock ledge jumps.
Multi-Sport: Climb, Bike, Hike, Fish, Paddle, Camp, Climb
In addition to the new mountain biking trails, Robinson Bluff is a destination for hiking, fishing, paddling, camping, and, of course, rock climbing. Thanks to volunteers like Eric -who has also set more than 25 stellar sport routes at Robinson Bluff - our Midwest multi-sport destination continues to evolve into a place for outdoor adventure enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. As such, there’s just too much to explore in a single day; check out all the ways to stay at Robison Bluff when you aren’t ready to leave!
Robinson Bluff is a privately owned rock climbing and mountain biking destination. Completing a waiver and paying the $10 per person daily entrance fee is required to participate in any — or all — of the property’s activities, with the exception of camping, which is $10/night per campsite.
Whether you’re the tent type, the cabin-only climber or camper van vagabond, Robinson Bluff has the right setup for your week or weekend of rock climbing. Choose from these three ways to stay:
Robinson Bluff’s campground has 21 primitive, wooded campsites with fire ring and natural seating. Sites are a quick walk from our brand new restrooms with potable water and shower; even closer is the maintained, portable restroom at the top of the grand staircase. Sites are available on a first come first serve basis, and can accommodate up to 6 people per campsite.
The main gate stays locked, so be prepared to haul your things to your campsite (approximately 500 yards) or email email@example.com ahead of time to request the gate code. Campers looking for a different landscape, and who are willing to hike their gear further, may want to camp along the gravel bar next to the river.
Cost to camp: $10 per site per night
Camper Van or Car Camp
With a large, level gravel parking lot, Robinson Bluff is equipped to handle camper vans, small RVs and travel trailers up to 19 feet. While not the same wooded surroundings as the tent camping, nearby trees offer some shade. No electric, water or sewer hookups, but the brand new restrooms with potable water and showers are located right across the street from the parking lot. Be aware that camper vans, RVs and travel trailers will not be able to make the loop in the campground.
Cost to camper van, RV or car camp: $10/vehicle
For those who prefer more in the way of amenities, the Camper’s Cabin is a quick walk or drive down the gravel road past the parking lot. The brand new, rustic cabin comes with a fully stocked kitchen, laundry, fire pit and BBQ grill. It accommodates up to four people, with two lofts, the queen bed is accessible via a one-of-a-kind cedar-carved staircases and the two twins via a climbing wall or built-in ladder.
With more cabins on the way, this rustic bungalow is currently the only one available to rent on AirBnB. Perfect for Robinson Bluff rock climbers who prefer a crag-side cabin over camping.
Check AirBnB for availability and pricing
Climb more. Drive less.
With 220 sport routes and bouldering problems, development at Robinson Bluff’s 3,615 feet of bluff line is always happening. In addition to fantastic rock climbing, Robinson Bluff guests also have access to hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as the Big River. Whether you stay at Robinson Bluff in a pup tent, pop up or “penthouse,” we’ve got you covered when you aren’t ready to leave!
Meet robinson bluff's most prolific route setter: Chuck McGibbon
If you’ve rock climbed much at Robinson Bluff, you’ve probably seen Chuck McGibbon crowbarring boulders off the wall, using a leaf blower thirty feet up, and drilling hole after painstaking hole while dangling in space. He is hands-down Robinson Bluff’s most prolific route setter, having established nearly 30 percent of our 178 sport routes.
With his stockpile of first ascents, you’d think he had been climbing and setting his entire life, but Chuck and his wife, Becky, both started rock climbing in their 60s. Before technical rock climbing, Chuck mountaineered fourteeners like Mounts Shasta (14,179’) and Rainier (14,411’) before tackling North America’s highest peak, Denali (20,310’). Then, he took on the world’s tallest peaks with Ama Dablam (22,349’) in Nepal, Aconcagua in Argentina (at 22,837’ it is the tallest mountain outside of Asia), and Cho Oyu (26,864’) in Tibet before training for the “roof of the world," Mount Everest, where in 2007, he reached its south summit (28,704’).
A year later, Chuck traded his high altitude career for a shorter, more affordable variety of climbing, technical rock climbing. He was 63. As with most new climbers, 5.9s felt out of reach, but that didn’t last long.
“I was inspired by Jack LaLanne (the godfather of modern fitness). When he turned 70, he towed a flotilla of 70 rowboats across Long Beach Harbor. I wanted to do something like that in my 70th year, too. So, I decided to try to red point at least 70 routes that are at least a 5.11a grade. I passed that goal with 84 before turning 71, and I just kept climbing and counting.”
Rock Climber to Route Setter
In 2017, Chuck and Becky visited Hobart, Tasmania for the second time. While Chuck had spent much of their first trip to the Australian island climbing on dolomite on nearby Mount Wellington, the second trip offered something new — recently discovered sandstone cliffs in the Sand River area. His mates invited him to help develop this new climbing area.
When he returned home, he wasn’t planning on using his new setting skillset. But then…
“I was climbing with Bill Weishaar one day at Robinson Bluff,” said Chuck. “Bill asked if I was interested in setting routes there. The Covid pandemic was just starting, and I didn’t want to be stuck inside during it, so I agreed to give it a try. I just loved going down there. Still do.”
…so much so, he’s made more than 250 trips here! While some of those were just to climb, the number of outings certainly speaks to the time commitment required to do what he’s done. Chuck says he spends three or more, eight-hour days setting a single-pitch route. Applied to Robinson Bluff’s total number of sport routes, that’s more than 4,400 hours of cleaning, hammering, chain sawing, anchor building, sequencing, planning, drilling, gluing and everything else that goes into route setting.
Thank you to every single one of our route setters! We recognize the significant time commitment you’ve given to set good routes. And we have a lot of good routes!
Route Setting at Robinson
Setting a route starts with finding an inspiring line. Then cleaning the rock. And finally, placing anchors and bolts. That’s about as basic an explanation as it gets. But there are many other steps and jobs as well (see 4,400 hour notation).
“Sometimes, there’s a lot of brush to remove,” said Chuck. “Some of it is easy (think pebbles, dirt, leaves, vines, poison ivy); other times, it might be an entire tree.”
Trading his chainsaw for a hammer and crowbar, Chuck then begins inspecting and pounding on the rock, checking for fractures, loose rock, and cavities. At Robinson Bluff, if it moves, it gets removed.
“Then, I figure out how I’d climb it and where the anchors should go. I try it on top rope and a fixed line a few times (he always sets from rappel), looking for decent rock to place the bolts. Then, I start drilling and gluing.”
In addition to his 50+ route contribution to Robinson Bluff, Chuck spends days — literally days — cleaning routes he hasn’t set, retrofitting anchors with mussy hooks, building and clearing trails, hand-crafting name plates for routes, and all around making the property better for climbers. Next time you see Chuck dangling along Robinson Bluff’s cliffs…first, watch out…then thank him.