M-K-T Railroad Line converted to a 200 mile biking/hiking trail
Katy Trail - Missouri State Park

Katy Trail website
very extensive
totally comprehensive
Wed Oct. 21 to Sun Oct. 25, 2009 approximate route    
on a Google map    

Links to other self supported bicycle tours:   Chicago to Duluth (9'04)
and  around St. Louis (9'03) that included a visit to the start of the Katy Trail in St. Charles.
Links to supported week long bike tours:
"500 mi across NY (7'08)"  -  across Illinois back roads (7'07)  -  "TRIRI" Indiana (9'06)  -  "GITAP" Illinois (6'04)  and  (6'03)
A leisurely Colorado trip with a few one day bike rides (9'08)
And links to (5'07) weekend bike trips:   Spring Green Morel Rides  and  Madison Rides

Most of the pictures on this page are about 1/8 size.  Click on any of the pictures for a larger size image (100 to 200 KB) or to switch to "slide show" mode.
The pictures on this site are not suitable for printing.  If you want a higher resolution version of a photo (2 to 4 MB) send me an e-mail at:        Click   {*}  for photo credits.

The bikers on this trip were three casual riders from Chicago's western suburbs, riding basic road bikes with somewhat oversize tires - 700/28 and 700/32 instead of the conventional 700/23.  One of the bikes was a folding "Bike Friday" with 20x1 inch tires.  The folding bike was convenient because we took the Amtrak Train from the ride end point to the start.  The road bikes worked well even though the Katy Trail is not paved - it's mostly crushed limestone.  Even after a day of fairly heavy rain - about an inch or two - the trail was quite easy to ride, although it was a bit sloppy.  In total we rode about 200 miles.

Since we were self contained, and traveling without reservations, we were able to take a rather leisurely pace.  One rainy day we only rode about 10 very rainy miles, from a camp site where our tents got quite wet, to a cozy warm dry B&B.  Generally we were riding at 8 to 10 mph, and at the lower end of this range over the second half of the ride where the trail was a bit softer due a few days of rain.  We were riding west to east, and we found that generally the western half of the Katy Trail is in better shape than the eastern half.  We would rate the western half as excellent.  The eastern half has some ruts and a rougher surface.  Any rut we encountered in the western half was prominently marked by caution signs.  On the eastern half, they must have run out of "caution rough surface" signs.

The trip really started on Tuesday October 20 with a drive from the Chicago area down I-55 through Saint Louis to the town of Kirkwood, Missouri, a western suburb of Saint Louis.  We left our van at the Kirkwood Amtrak train station, which provides free multiday parking.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger size image or to switch to  "slide show"  mode.

At the Kirkwood train station and a sunset shot through the train window:    {*} 

We boarded the 4:30 PM "Missouri River Runner" for the 3 hour, 175 mile ride to Sedalia, where we spent the night at a motel.
The streets of Sedalia had good size puddles of water, even though forecast we remembered for that day did not mention any rain.
An ominous omen for the rest of the trip.

Packing out of our Sedalia motel Wednesday morning:

Katy Trail approaching the Sedalia depot on the old M-K-T RR:

Sculpture at the depot:    {*} 

Fall colors along the trail between Sedalia and Boonville:    {*} 

The Boonville stop along the Katy Trail:
This is typical of the "stations" along the trail - every 5 or 10 miles.
There are two displays:  one gives all the details, and lists the services for that location;
the other (shown here) tells you what's ahead on the trail in either direction.
There's also a bathroom nearby at every station.

The Boonville MKT station and a restored caboose which we toured:    {*} 

Boonville riverfront - from a residential street with a restored mansion:    {*} 

Nancy on the bike lane along the road crossing the Missouri - and a view of the original MKT railroad lift bridge:    {*} 

Wednesday night, after riding about 40 miles, we camped at a nearly empty campground in Franklin just north of the Missouri River.
The rains started almost as soon as we had our tents up.
Thursday morning we packed up our wet gear and started riding.

The rain wasn't letting up so after just 12 miles we opted for this B&B in Rocheport:    {*} 

More scenery along the trail between Rocheport and North Jefferson City,
starting with a natural arch, the house on a rock, and ending with a pumpkin patch:

Always great views of the Missouri River along the trail, and there were snakes along the river:    {*} 

Friday it was still raining, but it wasn't as heavy so we decided to move on.
It was too sloppy to take pictures - except for a shot of the Missouri capitol in Jefferson, across the river from the Katy Trail.
Friday night, after riding about 50 miles with intermittent rain, we stayed at the Turner Katy Trail Shelter Hostel in Tebbetts:    {*} 

Saturday was our only day that was sunny and rain free.
Here are some more shots of the mighty Missouri to show what it all looks like when the sun is out:

Click here for a 1/2 minute video of the Missouri River.
It's probably easier to right click and download the video rather than playing it live in a browser window.

And some more scenery shots while the sun is shining:    {*} 

Standing Rock, a landmark along the Lewis and Clark route - note Nancy's bike on the trail at the base of the rock    {*} 
and the town of Portland, Missouri near the beginning of the Lewis and Clark route, probably anticipating their final destination
There were caution signs along the trail marking any washout ditches:
Further east, between Augusta and St. Charles, the trail was generally in worse shape
and the ditches were no longer marked - probably too many ditches for the trail crews to mark.

The highlight of Saturday's travels was touring the historic town of Hermann
and a stop at an Octoberfest next to Tim Mill Brewing.  Their "Doppelbock" beer was quite a treat.
Here are some shots from Hermann:    {*} 

On our last night, on Saturday after riding about 60 miles,
we camped next to a tiny restored log cabin in a county park at Marthasville:    {*} .219 S-1S-2

Sunday afternoon the rains came back as we headed for St. Charles.
This is the bridge over the Missouri on the route from the Katy Trail to Kirkwood;
and two shots from the Lewis and Clark Expedition museum in St. Charles:    {*} 
Sunday's ride to St. Charles was about 40 miles.
Due to more rain we opted for a taxi ride to get our van from the Amtrak station in Kirkwood.

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