The Fourth of July has now passed and we’re in the height of summer. Have you enjoyed the great outdoors lately? Gone for a hike or bike ride"? Watched a hawk circle in the sky? Watched a mighty river flow past? Missourians have a wonderful resource for doing all that and more! Winding it’s was through the heart of the Show Me State is the longest “Rails to Trails” project in the country—the Katy Trail.
The name comes from the pronunciation of the last two initials of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad. The trains stopped running in October, 1986 when the Missouri River once again flooded and washed out the tracks. The railroad made the decision to reroute and abandon the lines and the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources acquired the usage rights under the National Trails System Act of 1968.
Tracks were pulled up, crushed limestone was put down and trail opened in 1996—originally stretching from St. Charles in the east to Sedalia in the west. A shorter section (donated by Union Pacific) extended the trail from Sedalia to Clinton making the entire length of the trail 240 miles (390 km). There are those with hopes to extend the trail all the way to Kansas City or even link up to other trails in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
Currently, the Katy Trail doesn’t go to the two biggest cities in the state, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other towns worth visiting along the route.
- St. Charles—home of the state’s first capitol and the Lewis & Clark Boathouse (more on that when we get to the letter L)
- Defiance – site of the Daniel Boone home
- Augusta – the start of Missouri’s wine country
- Hermann – founded by German immigrants in the mid 1800’s. A great place to celebrate Maifest and Oktoberfest and Weihnachfest (Christmas)
- Jefferson City – the State Capital
- Boonville—the sons of Daniel Boone harvested salt here to sell in St. Louis. Across the river is Franklin, the start of the Santa Fe Trail
- Sedalia – home of the State Fair
Because this was formerly used by trains (and it runs along the Missouri River flood plain), the trails don’t have any steep grades or sharp turns –great for family biking, maybe a little dull for the X sports crowd. Still, many cross county cyclists include the Katy trail as part of their journey. I’ve also heard the crushed limestone is easy on the legs for runners. Since I’ve recently started training for a 5K and the trail is just across the river from our home, I may have to give it a go. If you plan a long hike/ride you’ll want to carry you own water as there are no fountains. Horseback riding is allowed on the far western side of the trail (from Clinton to Sedalia).
I’m linking up with …