Open Road Press

The Katy Trail

September 11-12, Days 71-72 of The HopeLine Tour of 2014

Debbie bundled upIt felt more like mid-October in New England than what we expected of mid-September in Missouri. Regardless, we bundled up and hit the Katy Trail.

Deb entering tunnel on Katy TrailWhat a beautiful two days of biking. If you’ve never heard of it, the Katy Trail State Park is the longest developed rail trail in the country. It is an amazing system that runs from Clinton, Missouri, to Machens, Missouri, a distance of 237 miles. Check out if you are looking for a new adventure. We met a few people who were riding the trail during their vacation, either camping or staying at B&B’s near the trail. In addition to the beauty, there is much history documented on placards along the route. There’s no car traffic, and very little bicycle or pedestrian traffic, either. You could say Tim and I had most stretches to ourselves.

Deer on the Katy TrailThe big entertainment on the trail was the deer that would pop out from the woods and bounce along. Once they had baited us, they would gracefully leap across fences and into the adjacent brush or fields. Here is a great shot by Tim, who was right next to the deer! The bunnies hopping around, the cardinals flying and chirping, and the sound of the Missouri River current made for an engaging ride. We traveled slower compared to riding on pavement, but the time went quickly as we logged 60 miles one day and 80 the next. The terrain was so flat that the cycling was easy on the body parts.

With the September sun now setting earlier, we need to hit the road earlier in the morning. We didn’t finish biking Friday night until after 9pm. Thank goodness for headlamps. We biked on the trail in the pitch dark. I happened to notice (while it was getting dark) that the Katy Trail is open from sunrise to sunset. We haven’t figured out who enforces this law. And we didn’t intend to break the law, but felt safer on the trail than on the road at that hour. It confirmed, once again, that we are truly on a bicycle adventure!

I cannot imagine how Lewis and Clark crossed the Missouri River in olden times, when the wilderness flourished and without the aid of modern technology. Our crossings were quite different:

  • Capitol in Jefferson City MissouriOn Thursday, we crossed the Missouri River in Jefferson City (the capital of Missouri). We arrived in Jefferson City to a pedestrian and bike path over the Missouri River. What engineering! We cycled up a ramp that placed us on what looked like a metal maze, which raised us four or five “flights” from the ground. This metal maze functioned like a spiral parking garage ramp, and then dumped us out onto our own enclosure attached to the side of the bridge. We were protected from the fast-moving cars. It was cool looking down into the river, but we were relieved to get across safely and quickly.
  • On Friday night, we crossed the Missouri into Washington, Missouri, in the pitch dark. We rode with headlamps from Marthasville along the Katy Trail. Once we hit the road to Washington, the Friday night traffic was heavy. There were no metal mazes to go through, but the traffic and the unfamiliar road were scary. Thank goodness for kind drivers who saw our wide loads, our flashing lights, and our reflective panniers, and let us cross the shoulderless, two-lane bridge with ease. Biking at night is not our desire, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. And we were happy to arrive in a town with a bike shop that we will visit tomorrow morning.

We’re off the Katy Trail now and back onto Missouri’s rolling hills. We expect the hills to get bigger as we head south toward the Ozarks. We expect to leave Missouri in a few days.

One thought on “The Katy Trail

  1. Jim Burns

    Hey Tim and Deb,
    Those rail trails are so fantastic. Wouldn’t it be cool to have them available all the way across the country. Only thing nicer than that would be if they were paved. Deb, that ramp system was certainly impressive. Didn’t look like you had all that much room to maneuver tho.
    Stay safe, be well, and good traveling…Jim

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