With river views, stuck-in-time railroad towns and tidy farms with cattle in the fields, there’s not a bad section of Katy Trail State Park.
But here are four that are down-right spectacular.
Jefferson City to Hartsburg: 10 miles.
This section can be busy with state employees getting some exercise on lunch breaks.
Hartsburg is a quintessential railroad town. It is home to the Globe Hotel B-and-B and Dotty’s Café.
Dotty Manns has operated Dotty’s Café in Hartsburg for years. She once retired for nine months, missed the camaraderie she had with trail riders, and reopened on New Year’s Day of 2015.
“I love the bikers, I love the regulars,” she said. “I have met so, so many nice people from the Katy Trail.”
Defiance to Augusta: 7.2 Miles
Because of its proximity to St. Louis, on the doorstep to Missouri Wine Country, Defiance to Augusta and back is one of the most popular rides on the Katy Trail.
Highway 94 doglegs in the middle of Defiance with the Yellow Farmhouse Winery, Defiance Roadhouse and Terry & Kathy’s bar facing each other on the bend.
The highway climbs and winds through the river valley, making it a favorite for motorcycle riders, especially on weekends, when they mingle with the cyclists in Defiance.
At Augusta, the trailside Augusta Brewing Co. is right next to the trail, and up the hill is Kate’s Coffee House, which serves cappuccino, lattes, expresso, smoothies and sandwiches.
Customers who “pull the hill” and make the ride to the top are treated to a free mini pecan muffin, hot from the oven.
But the reward is on the honor system, so even those who cheat and walk their bikes up get the treat.
Treloar to McKittrick: 16.4 miles
A grain elevator at Treloar and an ivy-covered concrete silo at McKittrick have been decorated with poster-sized paintings, thanks to the Katy Land Trust, which works to preserve and honor the river valley’s farm heritage.
Nothing much was in between the artwork, unless you count the wildflowers, indigo buntings and a sleek young black snake soaking up the sun. The trail heads arrow straight with river views on one side and bluffs on the other.
When you spot another rider, you tend to stop and swap experiences.
The Hotel Frederick in Boonville is among the historic hotels that cater to bikers seeking a luxurious break from the trail.
Easley to Rocheport: 15.8 miles
A mile west of Easley, a collection of RVs, tents, boats and a general store means you’ve arrived at Cooper’s Landing Riverside Resort and Marina on a strip of river bank.
Cooper’s is not far from the spur that joins the trail from Columbia, and is a pit stop for Mizzou students who come for the river view, live entertainment and a meal.
Signs along the trail point out the spot where Lewis & Clark stopped in June of 1804, and a formation known as Roche Percee, a natural arch high up a bluff.
The stretch from Huntsdale to Rocheport was the first opened, and you can see why it got priority. As you approach Rocheport, benches line the trail along the towering bluffs, offering panoramic views of the Missouri River.
Rocheport is a quaint railroad-town-turned-tourist destination. Les Bourgeois Vineyards sits on a bluff overlooking the river, and the town has restaurants, charming B&Bs, antique and collectible shops and the only railroad tunnel on the entire trail.