Missouri’s Katy Trail Is Longest Rails-to-Trails Project

katy trail rails to trails projectsMissouri’s Katy Trail, at 225 miles, is the longest rails-to-trails project in the United States, crossing the width of the Show Me State from St. Charles to the Kansas border.

It is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Missouri State Park system. Each year, about 300,000 people travel all or a portion of the trail. And Bruce and I have decided we want to ride its entire length.

Who’s with us?

missouri bike trail katy trailThe Katy’s first life was as the railbed for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (M-K-T) Railroad that crossed the breadth of Missouri from near St. Louis enroute to Texas. That service ended in 1986 and 10 years later, the route was reborn and this time nicknamed The Katy Trail.

For many, the starting point is St. Charles, a historic French community on the banks of the Missouri River, just where the river joins the Mighty Mississippi north of St. Louis. This part of the Katy is also a part of the Lewis and Clark Trail because it follows the path of the Missouri River all of the way to Boonville in central Missouri.

From St. Charles to Hermann, the Katy passes through the region known as Missouri’s Rhineland, a number of German communities known for fertile vineyards, good wine and great food.

You might want to plan a little extra time on this part of the trail.

missouri bike trail

At Jefferson City, the capitol of Missouri, the trail actually passes on the north side of the Missouri River. Crossing the river into the city of Jefferson City via a bike lane added to the Highway 63 bridge, completed in 2010, is worth your while. The city has added lots of bike trails in recent years. Plus the capitol grounds and Governor’s Mansion are just beautiful places to explore.


Katy Trail in Mid-Missouri



bike trails in MissouriThrough mid-Missouri, the trail passes through the historic towns of Arrow Rock, Boonville, New Franklin, Rocheport and other communities that have responded to the presence of the Katy Trail and its travelers with bike friendly restaurants, lodging and other services. Here is where the trail is considered most scenic as its snuggles up against limestone bluffs, winds through tunnels and crosses over bridge tresses before it opens up onto the plains of western Missouri near Sedalia.

missouri bike trails katy trailThe home of ragtime pianist Scott Joplin and the Missouri State Fair, Sedalia welcomes Katy Trail riders at the restored train depot and overnight accommodations at the historic Bothwell Hotel. The trail zig zags along city streets for a while, but the route is clearly marked, streets are wide and traffic is courteous. In addition, many of the homes, situated on stately lots with mature trees, represent some of the best Victorian architecture in western Missouri. Sedalia is also where the Katy welcomes those on horseback with about 25 miles of equestrian trails on the west of town.

missouri bike trails katy trailFrom Sedalia to the Kansas state line at Clinton, the trail passes through rolling farmland, wetlands and open prairie where bikers may enjoy some of the best birding in the state. This was the last part of the trail to be developed as as a result, services are somewhat sparse, so travelers should plan accordingly.

A cross-state ride on the Katy Trail is held each Father’s Day weekend.  We might not join the group, but our goal is to some day soon ride every foot of Missouri’s Katy Trail.  So I ask again – who’s with us? 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *