Katy Trail

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Bicycle the Katy Trail from St. Charles Missouri to Clinton Missouri

For the outdoor enthusiast and nature lover, a trip to the Augusta area is a rewarding experience and offers beginning and advanced options for cycling, mountain biking, and hiking.  Bill and I have spent many hours pedaling or hiking in the area and we will share with you some of the best places to get outside and breathe the fresh country air of Missouri Wine Country.                   

The Katy Trail is the largest rails-to-trails bicycle trail in the country and is an easy trail to ride for beginners setting out on their first day trip.  Starting just east of St. Charles, Missouri and ending in Clinton Missouri, the trail is 240 miles.  Seasoned cyclists, cycling clubs, and outdoor adventure tours find that the Katy can challenge them all along the way, too, with higher mileage planned between stops.  Small towns and bigger cities are linked by the Katy, like a highway system just for bicycles.  Cycling through the cornfields of the Missouri River bottoms and along the white-faced bluffs of the Missouri River, beauty and solitude is always surrounding you as you meander down the path.
 

Visit Missouri Wine and Bike for more information on the Missouri Viticultural Area ...

 

Thoughts from Debbie:

I never cease to be amazed at the constantly changing landscape from day to day along the Katy.  Early spring rides reveal the white bluff faces as they contrast with the recently tilled black soils of the bottoms land.  Newborn calves of the local ranches stare at you with curiosity as their wary mothers stand by making sure you're just passing through.  Soon after the farmers plant the soybeans, corn, and grain, the earth turns a light pale green as the sprouts urge their way up.  Every day is a new scene as all the living things begin to grow and shape the land.  As the corn begins to tassel in mid-summer, a new color begins to appear and add another layer of drama, a pale gold that beckons the morning sun to light it up.  Birds of all sorts use the tassels as a landing place, seeming to enjoy just hanging out, swaying in the breeze, whistling their favorite song.  I often stop at a wooden bridge and watch them perform for me.

As late summer approaches, the corn turns to a rich golden-tan, losing most of it's green of summer, but this again, catches the light of the sun in the late afternoon and appears to be set ablaze.  In a few weeks, once harvest is complete and the soil is turned, the remnants of the once-living things that kept me company are returned to earth creating a tan and black landscape that always stops me in my tracks.  I savor the moment.  I know winter is coming, and my bike will be put away, waiting for that early spring day when I can get back out riding this great gift.
 

 

There are so many wonderful places for daytrips along the Katy that are close to the St. Louis area, yet far enough away to bring you closer to nature.  The Weldon Springs Conservation area just east of Defiance is shady and quiet with benches for resting along the trail every so often.  You can cycle to Sugar Creek Winery or hang out at Dave and Jackieís for a cold one.  Take the bike path into Klondike Park for a trip around the lake.

 

 

Originally a quarry to mine white quartz sandstone for the production of glass, Klondike park has a small lake for catch and release fishing in the middle of white sands with bluffs surrounding the park.  There are picnic areas, playgrounds and camping in the park.  If you like to hike, there are several challenging hiking paths that take you through the woods and up the bluffs with mind-boggling views of the Missouri River Valley. 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite exercise routes is from Augusta to the Klondike cut-off, through the park to the entrance. I hop off my bike at the conference center and take the path up to the bluff.  I gaze out over the river valley, imagining what it was like for Lewis and Clark. (Remind me to tell you about the cougar I saw). Sometimes, I will take the hiking path and add an hour hike to my 45-minute ride.  The path through the park zigzags through switchbacks all the way down to the entrance again.  A few miles west and you'll be in Augusta.

 

 

 

 

 


The more adventurous may want to plan an overnight trip, perhaps St. Charles to Augusta and back the next day.  This is a wonderful way to get your feet wet in the inn-to-inn cycling adventure trips.  The trip from the St. Charles trailhead to the Augusta trailhead is about 27 miles or 3-5 hours, depending on your speed and relaxation time in between. 

If you donít have bikes at your disposal, you can rent them at Katy Bike Rental in Defiance, and head to Augusta for an overnight stay at the Lindenhof.  Reward yourself with a relaxing and soothing soak in the outdoor hot tub or sit by the stone fireplace with a glass of wine and some home-baked bread.  Youíve earned it. 

  • If youíre tastes lean to the more rugged and spirited side of life, bring your mountain bike and try out the trail at Klondike Park.  Steep descents and narrow ledges are not for the faint-of-heart and the seasoned and hearty rider will not be disappointed.  If you would like to try out the mountain biking experience in a less precarious but still challenging way, head to Matson Hill Park, located high up the hillsides of the Defiance area. 

This park has paths cut through some of the most beautiful landscape in the area and a trip on a cool October day will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.  The lay of the land has plenty of heart-pumping ascents and descents but without the narrow drop offs of Klondike.  Deer abound in this area, and I have never been disappointed while hiking through there.  I feel as if I am the only one around who knows about this place.  Someday I will ride it, rather than walk.  Perhaps we'll meet along the way.

 

Here is a great synopsis of the Katy Trail that give you an idea of itís attributes from end to end:

St. Charles Missouri was originally a French Settlement dating back to the mid 1700s, the town became the stateís first capital before it was moved to Jefferson City.  Here you'll find several shops and restaurants of all kinds in keeping with the rich history of the town.  This is where Lewis and Clark got provisions for their adventure west.

Leaving St. Charles, on your adventure to the west, just before reaching Augusta, you'll find Klondike Park.  Originally a quarry to mine white quartz sandstone for the production of glass, the park has a small lake for catch and release fishing in the middle of white sands with bluffs surrounding the park.  There are picnic areas, playgrounds and camping in the park.  A few miles more and you're in Augusta.

Augusta Missouri is in the heart of an area known as
"Missouriís Rhineland"
because of the Germans who came to this part of the state in the mid 1800s.  The town has 2 wineries, a microbrewery, antique and specialty shops, restaurants and bed and breakfasts.

Heading west from Augusta you will want to make a stop in Dutzow at the Dutzow Deli for a great sandwich before heading onto Marthasville. Marthasville is just four miles further and is near the site of an old French trading post where Daniel Boone lived the last years of his life. There's a grave site one mile east of Marthasville, a short distance off the trail.  If you are lucky, you may hear the local church's' musical bell-chimes playing hymns up on the bluff.

 Continuing, the trail passes through many rural and farming communities supported by the rich bottomland soil. The bluffs along this part of the trail are made from limestone and sandstone.   There are many birds and wildflowers on this portion of the trail.
  Another great overnighter is from The Lindenhof to Hermann Missouri, about 36 miles.  They now have a dedicated bike path across the river on their new bridge.

The trail runs through McKittrick, just north of Hermann, known for its German heritage and its vineyards and wineries.  Besides vineyards and wineries, Hermann has several restaurants, shops and bed and breakfasts.  There is a recently completed Hwy 19 Bridge that has a dedicated bike lane to get you safely across the river.

Onward to the state capital... Jefferson City.

From Jefferson City to Columbia

The MKT Trail is a 8.9 mile spur trail that runs from the Katy Trail just west of McBaine to downtown Columbia.

Then to Rocheport.
Rock drawings were left by native Americans were mentioned in the journals of Lewis and Clark as they traveled up the Missouri River. A rare surviving pictograph can be seen above Lewis and Clark Cave on the trail near Rocheport.  Trail users today can pass through the old 243-foot-long stone-arched tunnel used by the old MKT Railroad.

Through New Franklin, considered the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail, and on to Boonville, with towering bluffs on one side and the Missouri River on the other.

Between Boonville and Sedalia the trail is more rolling, with woods to river bottoms along the way.  As you get closer to the Ozark hills, you can expect to pedal a little more strenuously.

In Sedalia, the Katy Trail travels along city streets from the depot to Boonville Street. Use should follow the marked road route.  Sedalia is also host to the Missouri State Fair.

Between Sedalia and Calhoun, horses are permitted on a stretch of trail between Calhoun and the Missouri State Fairgrounds Katy Trail parking area in Sedalia.

On to Clinton, with an area along the nine-mile section between Calhoun and Clinton, where bicyclists are likely to see and hear birds associated with open areas such as bobwhite, killdeer, mourning doves and meadowlarks.