Missouri’s Katy Trail (technically Katy Trail State Park) is a popular pedestrian and bicycle path that runs across the heart of Missouri.
Starting near St. Charles on the east, the approximately 240-mile trail parallels the Missouri River until it reaches the Boonville area, where it takes a southwesterly path through Sedalia to its ending point near Clinton.
The mostly flat, crushed limestone trail is easy for walking and bicycling (a few sections are open for horseback riding) and many small towns (along with bed and breakfasts, restaurants and wineries) are easily accessible from the Katy Trail.
So what else do you need to know before finding adventure on the Katy Trail? Well …
- The right bike – The folks at Red Wheel Bike Shop in Jefferson City say the type of riding you will do has the most bearing on the bike you choose. Someone who rides the smooth Katy Trail most will likely end up with a different style of bike than a true off-roader. From there, factors such as height come into play.
- Cool stops – Some of the sights you’ll see along the way include wine country in Hermann and Augusta, Missouri’s Capitol in Jefferson City, massive bluffs near Rocheport and the Katy Depot in Sedalia.
- Great views – There are many places to enjoy spectacular views along the Katy Trail, including in the McBaine area southwest of Columbia.
- Special-use areas – Horseback riding is permitted on the Katy Trail’s western section, running from the State Fairgrounds in Sedalia to Clinton, and in the Midwest section, from Portland to Tebbetts.
- Requisite gear – At a minimum, be sure you have plenty of water and snacks. Of course, you’ll have your helmet, and a first-aid kit is always a good idea. Also, you want to make sure you have a spare tire/tube, a small air pump and your cell phone and charger. Proper footwear is important as well.
- I see animals – If you’re riding on the Katy Trail and see a wild animal, don’t approach it. If you want to stop and snap a photo (from a safe distance), there’s probably no harm there. But never approach an animal in the wild.
- Is that poison ivy? – There are many adages pertaining to poison ivy and other plants that can leave you itching and scratching. One of the best is, “Leaves of three, let it be.”
- Can I get a tune-up? – Bike shops to assist with everything from repairs to rentals are found along the Katy Trail. In St. Charles, visit The Bike Stop (they’ve got a café); at Rocheport, check out the Trailside Café and Bike Shop; and in Sedalia, try Champion Bicycles.
- Print is not dead – Your cell phone, when charged, is a wonderful tool. That said, it never hurts to have paper maps of the Katy Trail and of Missouri when you’re riding. You may find spots where the cell has no signal and paper maps can orient you to nearby cities and attractions.
- Get some help with hauling – If you’re taking a longer ride or need help hauling gear, consider Katy Bike Rental – they’ll shuttle you to a trailhead or transfer baggage. Amtrak has services for riders and has limited space for those traveling with their bicycles on the Missouri River Runner line.
- Power-up portals – When you visit a business or restaurant, or stay at a bed and breakfast, be sure to take the opportunity to charge your cell phone. You’ll find most folks don’t mind if you borrow a little electricity and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your phone is ready to roll when you are.
These are just a few of the tips to consider when planning an outing on the Katy Trail. You need to know your own limitations before hitting the trail to ensure a fun and memorable experience. Find out more about the Katy Trail online at MoStateParks.com.